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Since its inception in 2001, project personnel have continued their own research in the general field of democracy promotion in the former Yugoslavia. Products include papers commissioned by the Muabet project, conference presentations, and published articles. Titles are listed below, organized by year: those with a link are accessible here.


Working Papers


Ana Devic: "Guarding and Guiding Regionalism and Interculturalism: Civil Society and Non-Governmental Organizations in Vojvodina"
This report seeks answers to the following question: How much democratization and civil society building is happening in the Province of Vojvodina - against the larger background of the Republic of Serbia - seen from the perspective of civil society's most active agents, i.e. local NGOs. By democratization and civil society building I mean working towards the goals of broader citizen participation in the local social and political development, and, more concretely, increasing involvement in the course of reforms that have placed Serbia after the fall of Slobodan Milosevic's regime in October 2000 on the path of what most participants in this project perceive as a one-decade delayed post-socialist transition... Read More

Christophe Solioz: "The Complexity of [In]formal Networks in Bosnia and Herzegovina"
This paper focuses on groups and networks that are not explicitly institutionalized. Firstly, I consider social relationships between people and/or groups not necessarily structured by the existence of a formal organization. These have played a key role in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as in the Balkans in general, especially in periods of the erosion and/or collapse of the state. On the one hand, there are special-interest clans and cliques: social circles, circles of intrigue, ties of loyalty and social obligations, mostly consisting of closed and exclusive networks well established in the political game and not seen as particularly virtuous. We may think of kinship/clan ties and clientelistic networks controlling the black market and grey economy, but also the armed forces and the financial resources of the state, as well as various criminal activities involving weaponry and drugs... Read More

Chip Gagnon: "Innovative Strategies of Democracy Assistance: Catholic Relief Services in Serbia"
In an attempt to identify and better understand innovative strategies of democracy assistance, this report focuses on one US non-governmental organization (NGO) - Catholic Relief Services (CRS) - and its operations in one country in the region of Southeastern Europe, Serbia. It builds on previous research I have undertaken in Bosnia-Herzegovina on US NGO democracy assistance strategies. In this report I will begin by briefly summarizing my findings from Bosnia; explain why I chose to focus on Catholic Relief Services; describe two of the projects being undertaken in Serbia by CRS; and make some tentative conclusions about why CRS is pursuing innovative strategies that are lacking in most of the US-government funded projects in the region...Read More

Eric Gordy: "CRDA and Civil Society in Serbia"
In some sectors, there has been an increasing tendency to equate 'civil society' with private charitable organizations, by way of contrast to state-funded provision of social services. This definition is in contrast with the explicitly political way in which the term has been defined by local actors since the 1980s. These actors regard civil society as a political project, and consider its establishment and activity as a fundamental part of the construction of democratic societies in the region. A tradition of social research in Serbia and the former Yugoslavia points to the "informal groups" which were active in this period as spaces of socialization, self-organization and engagement independent of and autonomous from the state, which in the Communist period claimed oversight over all organized activity... Read More

Jeff S. Merritt: "Quick Impact, Slow Recovery? Funders' Priorities and the Local Realities"
In the rush to establish a defining local presence and win over public support for democratization initiatives in post-Milosevic Serbia and Montenegro, policy decisions underlying international assistance were often made quickly and new strategies were put to test. This chapter tells the story of such decisions within the context of the Community Revitalization through Democratic Action (CRDA) program that was launched in Serbia and Montenegro during 2001 and 2002. It draws primarily upon observations and discussions with international donors, implementing organizations and local actors during the initial implementation of these initiatives to document incongruence between the priorities of funders and the local realities of program implementation... Read More

Paul Nuti: "Sustainable Democracy-Building: Cases from the Former-Yugoslavia"
The Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC) has conducted the Democracy Network Program (DemNet) in Macedonia since April 1995 under a cooperative agreement with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This essay reflects on various dimensions of my experience as the ISC Country Director in Macedonia from May 2000 to July 2002. In particular, I explore: 1) the biases with which I approached my work as a self-styled democracy practitioner; 2) the profound influence of institutional imprimatur on the substance and character of the DemNet intervention; and 3) the interpretive frames used to evaluate political behavior in Macedonia. The commentary that follows is neither rigorous nor particularly analytical. On the contrary, it is highly impressionistic and it is meant only to capture the ambiguity inherent in crossing cultural borders with the intention of introducing a new worldview... Read More

Steven Sampson: "Elections Are Such a Drag: I'd Rather Be Giving out Blankets"
In particular, I will focus on the problems connected with those outside interventions for improving political life known as 'democracy assistance'. I will try to argue that democracy assistance has in fact little to do with democracy as we know it. And I will argue that this is not necessarily a bad thing. Rather, we must discover the extent to which democracy can develop because of democracy assistance, parallel to it, and even in spite of it. Furthermore, we must entertain the postulate that those activities classified as democracy assistance may actually operate as an impediment to the development of democracy. My message, therefore, is simple. Democracy assistance needs to be examined outside the framework of democracy. Conversely, democracy needs to be understood apart from its relationship to democracy assistance inputs... Read More

Victoria Gellis: "Measuring Process and Impacts: A Personal Perspective on Evaluating Democracy Building"
This paper will consider the process of evaluating democracy assistance activities from a personal perspective. I spent 2.5 months in Macedonia during the summer of 2003 assisting the Institute of Sustainable Communities in designing and conducting an ex-post facto evaluation of activities conducted as part of the USAID-funded Democracy Network Program. The evaluation consisted of two major phases: a survey tool to establish a consistent subset of information across the eleven target communities, and a site visit component where interviews and story-gathering compiled detailed information about both project impacts and participants' own experience. The site visit component included meetings with community members who were not formally involved in the activities to assess the projects from different perspectives. Much has been written to date on the challenges of evaluating democracy development activities, and this paper will explore some of these challenges based on my own experience... Read More


“Democracy as Career: Notes from the Professional Nation-building circuit.” American Anthropological Association Meetings, Washington DC, November 2007.

“Chains of accountability in US led nation-building.”  At conference entitled “After Empire: Global Governance Today.” Brown University, June 2008.

 “Of Devolution and Disillusion: Micropartition in Modern Macedonia.” Center for International Studies, University of Chicago, April 2009.

“The Politics of counter-centralization in the Former Yugoslavia.” At conference entitled “The European Union and State Building: Lessons for and from the Balkans,” University of Toronto, May 2009.

Other products from the research include:
The After-Life of Projects:

Mapping Democracy Promotion in the Western Balkans and Beyond.” EES News, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, May-June 2008: 1-4

“Democracy on the ground: apathy, community and civil society.” Opendemocracy.net, May 2009.