Constructing democracy in Africa: Constitutionalism and deliberation in Mali

Seminar date: 
08 May 2008
Speaker(s): Dr. Susanna Wing

Susanna Wing is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Haverford College. She received an MA in African Studies at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1994 and was awarded a PhD in Political Science there in 2000. She was a Fulbright scholar in Mali and a Chateaubriand post-doctoral fellow in 2000. Her research is on women's rights, constitutionalism and legal reform in West Africa. Her publications include Constructing Democracy in Transitioning Societies in Africa: Constitutionalism and Deliberation in Mali (Palgrave, 2008) and 'Women Activists in Mali and the Global Discourse on Human Rights' in Women's Activism and Globalization: Linking Local Struggles and Transnational Politics by N. Naples and M. Desai eds. (Routledge, 2002). Dr Wing has also worked as a consultant for the World Bank and USAID.

Why has African constitutionalism failed time and again? Rather than laying the foundation for democracy, these documents have routinely been thrown out or simply ignored. This presentation focuses on the importance of the process of constitutionalism by analyzing the case of Mali, a symbol of democracy in Africa. The focus of the seminar will not only be on how the Malian constitution was created but also on the ongoing deliberation that followed to help ensure its legitimacy and that of the state. Susanna Wing's research explores the central role that dialogue is playing in constructing democracy in Mali and considers the influence of more recent consensus politics on democracy.