Re-Conceptualising Democracy and Liberation in Southern Africa

11–13 July 2002, Windhoek

Convened by the Nordic Africa Institute in local collaboration with the Namibian Institute for Democracy ( and the Legal Assistance Centre (

Given the political, economic and cultural realities in the Southern African countries after colonial rule, both a conceptual reflection on the notions of democracy and liberation as well as an empirically based exploration of the current social power structures ought to be due. This Conference seeks to combine both theoretical and analytical approaches with particular case studies from the region. The societies in transition, especially under previous liberation movements in at least political control over the state and other social agencies, should be viewed within the framework of the given structural constraints inherited at Independence. Programmes of governments and parties, their concepts, strategies and policies in terms of social emancipation and participation, (re-)distribution of wealth and modified reproduction of power structures ought to be analysed and reflected upon.

Analysis of the state and its agencies as well as of the class structures and interests in relation to both, each other and to social actors and institutions outside of the state sphere is considered to be of substantial relevance. The Conference thereby also aims to seek further clarification on the different concepts and schools of thought concerning both the terminology and its contents (for example “popular” versus “liberal” democracy). It also intends to gain additional insights into current processes of social transformation, their scope and perspectives as well as their limitations.

List of participants

Conference report

For more information, contact Henning Melber (

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