Chaire CERI-Cérium

The CERI-CERIUM Chair in International Affairs

The CERI-CERIUM Chair in International Affairs was created in 2017 through an agreement between Sciences Po and the University of Montreal. Dedicated to both teaching and exchange, its goal was to develop training for doctoral students and post-doctoral fellows in order to transmit fundamental knowledge, provide a space for discussion on current empirical research, and create a transnational network of young specialists.

Between 2018 and 2020, the Chair’s research focused on contemporary issues to do with policing and was coordinated by Gilles Favarel-Garrigues, CNRS research director at CERI and Samuel Tanner, associate professor at the School of Criminology at the University of Montreal.

The second period of the Chair (2019-2021) looks at the transformations and reconfigurations of the political space in Latin America. Its activities are co-directed by Françoise Montambeault, associate professor in political science at the University of Montreal and director of ERIGAL (Interdisciplinary Research Team on Governance in Latin America), and Olivier Dabène, professor of political science at Sciences Po, researcher at the CERI and director of OPALC (Political Observatory on Latin America and the Caribbean at Sciences Po Paris).

Activities 2019-2021 : Latin America in motion 

In the 1980s and 1990s, the relations between the state and society in Latin America were marked by democratic reforms and a neoliberal economic shift. Economic policies focused on the market modified structures of governance and marginalised society. Historically organised according to a corporatist structure (a form of “controlled” inclusion), citizens’ relations to the state became more individualised and often unequal. This can be described as a citizenship of “consumers” or “beneficiaries”. Despite the arrival of democratically elected governments and a “left-wing shift” in the early 2000s, the historical characteristics of social exclusion and economic inequality, as well as corruption scandals and endemic violence, have endured.

Moreover, certain authoritarian practices seem to have returned to the public space, including crackdowns on social movements, institutional coup d’états, increased military presence, and structural violence. Born of Latin American societies’ dissatisfaction with neoliberal governments, the “left-wing shift” in the early 2000s until very recently symbolised a promise of deep reform to structures of governance, forms of inclusion, economic systems, and state-society relations. Yet this unprecedented wave of left-wing governments has waned in recent years, and their promises have not necessarily been fulfilled. Old and new conservative political and social forces have (re)emerged in the public space, bringing with them political, social, and institutional reconfigurations. This has challenged the quality of democracy, its institutions, and its practices, as well as the practices of social movements, for example. Finally, the Covid-19 health crisis over the past year has highlighted this latent instability. How do dynamics of governance evolve when models of political and economic development become uncertain? What is the impact of these transformations on the social and political actors of the region? These questions have been at the heart of the discussions and research conducted by the members of the CERI-CERIUM Chair since late 2019. These studies are organised around a series of encounters and activities that enable the members’ research activities to unfold around these questions, developing research collaborations through a summer school and a publication project. The Chair also involves members in the research groups organised by the two Chair holders (ERIGAL and OPALC) that also contribute to developing shared research projects.

Presentation of the two Chair holders

Françoise Montambeault is associate professor of political science at the University of Montreal, member of CERIUM, the Research Centre of policy and social development (CPDS), and founding member of the Latin American Study Network of Montreal (Réseau d’études latinoaméricaines de Montréal RELAM), which she co-directed for three years (2016-2019). She is now the director of the inter-university research team on Inclusion and Governance in Latin America (l’Équipe de recherche interuniversitaire sur l’inclusion et la gouvernance en Amérique latine ERIGAL), which was born of collaboration between political scientists within RELAM. The functioning of ERIGAL is funded by the FRQSC (2019-2023) which is developing a four year research programme on governance, inclusion, and citizenship in Latin America, around three main axes: the study of institutions, informal relations in the public space, and conflict. Her current research (funded by the CRSH) looks at civic participation, the transformations of forms of involvement in the changing public space, and interactions between these forms of institutional and emerging participation with processes of inclusion and (re)definition/transformation of borders of citizenship regimes. Her fieldwork is primarily conducted in Latin America, particularly in Brazil, Mexico, and Bolivia.

Olivier Dabène is professor of political science at Sciences Po and a researcher with the CERI, where in 2007 he created and presided over the Political Observatory for Latin America and the Caribbean (l’Observatoire politique de l’Amérique latine et des Caraïbes OPALC). He has developed two research projects within OPALC and in collaboration with a network of researchers. The first has been funded over the last six years by the Fondation Charles Léopold Mayer for the Progress of Humankind (FPH) to study the relationships between citizenship participation and governance in Latin America. His collaboration with Transparency International (Columbia) has already led to the 2019 publication of a book entitled Los efectos de los procesos participativos en la acción pública, and a web-series, Protestas. The second project is focused on studying the electoral cycle in Latin America between 2017-2019, challenging the hypothesis of a “right-wing shift”. Olivier Dabène’s own research explores the artistic expressions of democracy, and he published a book on this subject in 2020, entitled Street Art and Democracy in Latin America (Palgrave).

The coordinator of the Chair is Garance Robert, a doctoral student in the political science department at the University of Montreal. Her research focuses on the interpretation and use of human rights norms by groups defending rights in Nicaragua and Guatemala.

Activities and training for students

The main activities of the CERI-CERIUM Chair in International Affairs fall into three categories. A writing retreat and a study day in Montréal were planned for spring 2020, along with a dissemination event in Paris in 2021. However, in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, these activities have been deferred and altered as follows:

- Meetings (maintained since autumn 2019) in the form of online video conferencing between the Chair’s research teams, doctoral students, and postdocs. Discussions on questions relating to the contemporary upheavals in Latin America, particularly linked to the wave of protests that occurred in 2019. With the breakout of the pandemic, the group decided in mid-2020 to focus its effort on the crisis within their various spheres of interests. Several groups were therefore constructed around the following themes: public policy, citizenship, violence, mobilisations, elections, indigenous people.

- CERIUM Summer School (June 2021, online) piloted by the ERIGAL and OPALC research teams. Along with their guests, the organisers of the Summer School have invited participants to explore questions that guide the research concerns of the Chair, combining theoretical and practical learning. It proposes a wide variety of pedagogical models adapted to online teaching, in order to engage its different audiences: conferences with researchers specialising in the region, workshop-style exchange sessions, and discussions and debates, particularly with actors working in the field.

- Joint publication project (planned for autumn 2021). As part of the completion of each groups’ reflections on their specific research themes, the co-organisers of the Chair are currently coordinating a project to publish a special edition which will bring together the articles co-authored by group members.

Activities 2017-2020 : Contemporary transformations of policing 

See here (in French)

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