Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Vergleichende Demokratieforschung und die Politischen Systeme Osteuropas

CCRD Workshop: Reclaiming Democracy in Cities

The Center of Comparative Research on Democracy (CCRD) is pleased to call for papers for the workshop “Reclaiming Democracy in Cities”, which will take place at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin on June 22-23, 2022.

Workshop Theme

In early 2000s, several cities in the USA initiated the Sanctuary Cities movement to be able to deliver services to their “un-documented” migrant communities. This movement was followed by Toronto activists in 2004, who launched the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” (DADT) campaign and successfully ensured the development of policies providing better access to municipal services for migrants without proper official documents. Since these first cases, the sanctuary cities movement continues to develop and challenge restrictive national policies and anti-immigrant rhetoric of the right-wing parties. Fearless Cities, on the other hand, encouraged activists, political actors, and scholars to imagine political organizations other than territorial nation-states. Those cities try to radicalize democracy, feminize politics and drive the transition to an economy that cares for people and our environment. With all that; Barcelona establishes the Municipal Council Assembly aiming to create a space for civic representation in the city.

Besides, recent municipal elections in cities such as Budapest, Warsaw, and Istanbul have brought local politics and cities into the discussion as a possible source for a democratic response to the present political challenges. By gaining local elections in the most symbolically important cities, the opposition has acquired a new momentum and created a glimmer of hope for the democratic forces that oppose authoritarian regimes in Turkey, Hungary, and Poland.

Moreover, cooperation between cities has gone beyond national borders to form transnational networks such as human rights cities, sustainable cities, and solidarity cities. As the former mayor of New York said, “while nations talk, cities act” and the cooperation and solidarity among cities consolidate their action/power.

This workshop aims to focus on cities and urban politics as possible sites of resistance to authoritarianism and sources for new and innovative democratic practices. Acknowledging that urban governance is essential to responding to today’s major challenges such as inequality, migration, public health, housing, security and climate change, the workshop and the following publication seek to contribute to literature on local governance and democratic innovation. Therefore, we aim to amplify, the emerging debate on this evolving role of cities into political actors engaged in taking on responsibilities in finding democratic solutions for the main challenges of our times by developing deliberative and participatory practices. The workshop will thus join scholars from different regions and fields to reflect on and discuss local political dynamics and their potential to host democratic innovations.

Submissions related to the main theme or addressing the following topics are welcome:

  1. Cities as sites of resistance and opposition: If and how do they differ from the populist and polarizing discourse? What kind of strategies of opposition and political mobilization have cities developed?
  2. Alliances and Mobilization at the Local Level: What is the relation between extra-institutional urban politics and the electoral victories of opposition parties in the municipal elections.
  3. Local Governance and Participatory Practices: How and to what extent are these local governments participatory and inclusive? In what way do they help us to rethink democratic politics, institutions and mechanisms toward a more egalitarian, pluralist and inclusive direction.
  4. Solidarity Networks and Collaborations Beyond the Nation: Do these networks among cities constitute a democratic learning process? Do transnational city networks constitute an alternative to state-centered international relations and global politics?

Workshop Details

The two-day workshop will be held on-site in the vicinity of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, if the pandemic situation allows for it. The workshop aims to engage a focused debate among scholars and work towards a comprehensive edited volume on the new democratic claims from and in cities. Accordingly, authors of the accepted abstracts are expected to send a draft version of their paper two weeks before the workshop. The planned deadline for the final version of the papers is August 31, 2022.

Please submit your abstract of up to 500 words by 28 February 2022 to

Important Dates

Deadline for abstracts: 28 February 2022

Notification of acceptance: 11 March 2022

Submission of Draft Papers: 10 June 2022 (4000-6000 words)

Workshop days: 22-23 June 2022

Deadline for final papers: 31 August 2022

Travel and accommodation expenses will be covered for selected workshop participants. The workshops will be held in English.

Organizing Committee

Gülçin Balamir Coşkun (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

Tuba İnal Çekiç (Hertie School-Berlin)

Ertuğ Tombuş (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

Mitteilungen des Instituts




Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät
Institut für Sozialwissenschaften
Unter den Linden 6
10099 Berlin



Institut für Sozialwissenschaften
Universitätsstraße 3b
10117 Berlin