2021 Workshop

CALL FOR APPLICATIONS: 2021 ASIA FELLOWS
“Evolution and Challenges in Local Governance in Asia”
Virtual Summer Program (July 21 – August 11, 2021)
Updated: 10/27/21

The virtual summer program was conducted as series of weekly zoom sessions from mid-July through mid-August. The workshop brought together 12 scholars to advance research related to local governance and decentralization across Asia. This program was part of a multi-year effort to support political science research among early-career scholars in East and Southeast Asia, and to strengthen research networks linking Asian scholars with their colleagues overseas.

Maria Ela Atienza (University of the Philippines, Diliman, Philippines), Allen Hicken (University of Michigan, USA), Yuko Kasuya (Keio University, Japan), and Sarah Shair-Rosenfield (University of Essex, UK) led the workshop. The workshop consisted of weekly sessions held over 5 weeks (from July 12 through August 13). Following their participation in the full program, alumni received 2 years’ membership to APSA and are eligible to apply for small research grants.

Workshop Theme
Focusing on East and Southeast Asia, this workshop examined the heterogeneous experiences and outcomes associated with local governance and decentralization programs designed to devolve authority from central governments to subnational and local levels. As elsewhere around the world, experimentation with decentralization across Asia has produced mixed results; for each modest success story in one policy domain in one country, there is a counter-narrative of failure in another. Participants explored key theories and puzzles in the study of local governance and decentralization, as well as their connections to and implications for wider inquiries concerning governance, public goods and service provision, identity politics, democratization and autocratization, and urban politics. Participants utilized a range of methodological tools to analyze public behavior and opinion, mobilizing structures, state responses, and political outcomes before, during, and after the occurrence of popular protests. Thematic emphases include:

The Politics of Local Governance, Identity, and Representation

  • The interaction between local and national politics and political organizations
  • The politics, promise, and problems with decentralization
  • The effects of nation-state building and decentralization on identity politics
  • The effects of corruption, clientelism and rent-seeking in regional and local governments
  • Causes and consequences of national-local competition over resources, credit claiming, and agenda setting at the subnational level

Distinctive Challenges in Governing Urban and Semi-Urban Spaces

  • Overcoming infrastructural challenges in governing and providing services to Asia’s urban mega-cities
  • Managing the needs and demands of diverse and cosmopolitan urban populations
  • Crisis management and governance in cities, including re-envisioning urban spaces and usage amidst the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Urban jurisdictional overlap and complexities of transparent and accountable governance

Democratization and Democratic Backsliding Below National-Level Governments

  • When do local politics influence democratization?
  • What explains the persistence of subnational authoritarianism after national-level democratization?
  • How do national- and local-level democratic backsliding influence each other?
  • How do national-level authoritarian leaders impact local governments’ policy delivery?

Local Government Authority and Public Service Delivery

  • The complex relationship between local government capacity and the delivery of public services, including education, health, and sanitation
  • Emergency response and disaster management at the local or regional level
  • Non-homogenous distribution of environmental and other problems (e.g. environmental degradation, poverty, natural hazards, conflict) affecting service delivery and localized responses
  • Coordination and relationship of local governments with national governments and other governance actors (e.g. private sector, civil society, political parties and elites, international community) in public service delivery
  • Factors affecting public service delivery at the local level

For more information, contact asiaworkshops@apsanet.org. Please do not contact the workshop leaders directly.