Participation for a 'People-Driven' Constitution?: A Critical Investigation of Zambian Civil Society Engagement in the Constitution-Making Process
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This study explores with theoretical and practical challenges surrounding the roles of civil society organizations (CSOs) and participatory approaches in development and democratization processes in contemporary Africa. Through a grounded, contextualized analysis of a coalition of Zambian CSOs, the Oasis Forum, and its (dis)engagement with the ongoing constitution-making process, this thesis interrogates the possibilities and limitations of various conceptions of „popular participation? in efforts to open up potentially transformative spaces for citizen engagement. The case of the Oasis Forum complicates, enriches and challenges both liberal and critical narratives of civil society, and demonstrates that even within superficially liberal language and objectives, there can be efforts to advance, and articulate with, more far-reaching possibilities for social change. Though the constraints of neoliberal globalization fundamentally constrain the scope of Zambian economic and political self-determination, this work reveals the under-acknowledged radical potential of liberal conceptual and policy tools to challenge this hegemonic order. More grounded, nuanced theoretical approaches are required to address the mutually constitutive nature of hegemonic structures and the agential subjects struggling within and against them.