Civil Society in Regional Governance in Eastern and Southern Africa
The relatively scant emphasis given to civil society in studies dealing with regionalism would seem to suggest the low relevance of civil society in this regard. This is unfortunate because, as this chapter elaborates, civil society is a dynamic force at the regional level and deserves deeper analysis. To this end, this chapter seeks to contribute to the debate about civil society’s role in regional governance in Eastern and Southern Africa. We argue that the neglect of civil society in the study of regional governance is at least partly a theoretical and conceptual problem. As emphasized in the first part of this chapter, it is necessary to acknowledge the heterogeneity of links between civil society and states that arise in different socio-cultural and political contexts. We argue in particular that theories and conceptualizations of civil society rooted in the Western or European experience risk misunderstanding the logic of African civil society and its involvement in regional governance.