Join us for the launch of our new Global Research Network on Parliaments and People with a keynote speech on ‘Deepening Democracy’ by Baroness Amos.

We are bringing together scholars from Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Myanmar to learn from their insights on the scrutiny, engagement and representation processes in their parliaments. For the next three years we will be creating opportunities for scholars, politicians, artists and civil society organisations to research, debate and re-imagine politics, and work towards deeper democracy in these and other fragile states. Come to the launch event to help us shape how arts and humanities can contribute to international parliamentary strengthening in the future.

Bringing together the study of politics and development we will be exploring new ways of working towards more meaningful and inclusive forms of democratic engagement and how relationships between parliaments and the public they serve can be bridged and strengthened.


Baroness Amos
Director of SOAS and former UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Secretary of State for International Development.

Professor Niraja Gopal Jayal
Professor, Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and author of the award winning book, ‘Citizenship and its Discontents: An Indian History’.

Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP MP for Sutton Coalfield, former Secretary of State for International Development and government Chief Whip.

Janet Boston Director of Perspective Film Production, producer of the award winning ‘Hands On’ global solutions programme for BBC World, and former CEO of the John Smith Trust and the Thompson Foundation.

Greg Power
Founder/Director, Global Partners Governance, author of the first ‘Global Parliamentary Report’ published by UNDP and IPU, and former Special Adviser to the Rt Hon Robin Cook MP and Rt Hon Peter Hain MP.

Prof Emma Crewe
Professor of anthropology at SOAS, author of the ‘House of Commons: An Anthropology of MPs at Work’, and chair of international NGO, Health Poverty Action.

Myat Thet Thitsar
Executive Director, Enlightened Myanmar Research Foundation, and co-author of ‘Performance analysis of state and regional hluttaws (local legislatures) in Myanmar’.

Professor Nizam Ahmed
Professor of Public Administration, Chittagong University, Dhaka, and author of ‘Aiding the Parliament of Bangladesh: Experience and Prospect’ and ‘The Bangladesh Parliament: A Data Handbook’.

Dr Meheret Ayenew
Executive Director, Forum for Social Studies, Addis Ababa, and author of ‘Reflections on Development In Ethiopia: New Trends, Sustainability and Challenges’.

Professor Zahir Ahmed
Professor of anthropology, Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka, and author of ‘Anthropology and the Public Sphere in Bangladesh’.

Fatema Bashar
Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, Jagannath University, Dhaka.

Tsedey Mekonnen
Researcher, Forum for Social Studies, Addis Ababa specialising in women and politics in Ethiopia.

Dr Mandy Sadan (session chair)
Reader in the History of South East Asia, SOAS, and author of ‘Being & Becoming Kachin: Histories Beyond the State in the Borderworlds of Burma’.

Professor Cristina Leston-Bandeira (session chair)
Professor of Politics, University of Leeds, author of ‘Parliaments and Citizens’, and member of the Digital Democracy Commission set up by the Speaker of the House of Commons.


Learning From The Past

9:30am - 1:30pm (including lunch)

Local researchers from Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Myanmar will explore ‘Scrutiny and engagement’ and ‘Representation and exclusion’, bringing together the findings from a three-year DfID/ESRC sponsored project on ‘Parliaments, public engagement and poverty reduction’.

At the event we will also be launching a new discussion paper exploring how the UK can support national research capacity development in fragile democracies. Drawing on the experience of SOAS and the Hansard Society in working with national researchers in Bangladesh and Ethiopia over the last three years, it will set out:

  • why policy-makers need to rethink how they understand the relationship between development and politics;
  • the need for a new Global Research Network on Parliaments and People to support ‘critical friend’ scrutiny of national legislatures;
  • how scaling-up investment in scholarship, networking and capacity development in the Global South should be at the heart of parliamentary strengthening work.

This session is particularly targeted at academics and practitioners with an interest in democracy, parliaments and governance especially in fragile states.

Looking To The Future: Inspiring Others To Deepen Democracy

2:00 - 5:00pm

Marking the launch of the ‘Global Research Network on Parliaments and People’, Baroness Valerie Amos will give a keynote address on ‘Deepening Democracy’ and the relationship between parliaments and the public in representative democracies around the world. A panel of decision-makers, civil society practitioners and academic researchers will respond to the issues raised.

The session will end with an ‘ideas forum’ to help inform and shape the development of the Global Research Network which is at the heart of a new three-year project on deepening democracy in politically fragile countries. The project, funded by a £2 million grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council via the Global Challenges Research Fund, will create opportunities for scholars in politically fragile states to undertake research on the links between ‘Parliament and the People’ and collaborate with arts organisations. It will be co-ordinated by SOAS.

This afternoon session is particularly targeted at parliamentarians, academics, civil society practitioners, journalists, and those working in the arts and humanities with an interest in democracy and political engagement.

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