The Promise and Perils of Transnationalization
NGO Activism and the Socialization of Women’s Human Rights in Egypt and Iran
Routledge – 2013 – 294 pages
Routledge – 2013 – 294 pages
To date, most constructivist international relations studies have characterized the influence of transnationalism on domestic forms of activism as uniformly positive. In particular, transnational interactions are viewed as positive factors for the development and daily impact of gender activism.
Benjamin Stachursky’s book questions the unvarying positive view of transnationalism on domestic forms of activism, arguing for a more nuanced analysis that permits an understanding of the enabling and restricting effects of transnationalism. Stachursky also challenges the dominant view of civil society as normatively homogenous by illustrating the complex relationships and conflicts that exist between NGOs and other civil society representatives. He grounds his theoretical arguments with a comparative case study on women’s rights activism in Egypt and Iran, which uses semi-structured interviews with women’s rights activists in the two countries and analysis of documentation by local political and societal actors. Looking at the period from the mid-1980s up to present developments such as the Arab Spring, Stachursky analyzes the emergence and development of NGO activism in Egypt and Iran, the social, political, and legal context of NGO activism, and key domestic debates on the impact and legitimacy of the actors operating in women’s rights activism.
By closely examining the ambivalent relationship between transnationalism and human rights organizations, Stachursky proves that transnationalization has both enabling and constraining effects on the domestic legitimacy of women’s rights activists and on their ability to create meaningful social and political change.
"This is a superb study about the dynamics at work in the translation of global norms. Stachursky focuses on women’s rights as a set of norms that requires far more than state socialization to make a real life difference, and he picks the particularly ’tough cases’ of Egypt and Iran in which he traces women’s rights activism. His results help us understand the complexities of profound societal change and reveal the various roles, both enabling and constraining, that transnationalism may play in this endeavor."
—Susanne Zwingel, SUNY Potsdam
"The book’s interdisciplinary approach to international relations and transnationalism, which incorporates insights from political science, law, sociology, and gender studies, provides an important corrective to the international relations field which has traditionally focused on state actors. By examining the crucial role of non-state actors in the international system and their transnational practices, such as women’s human rights NGOs, Benjamin Stachursky highlights the challenges of these NGOs to not only lobby state institutions but the necessary yet difficult task of targeting the larger society in order to change societal and cultural norms that prevent gender equality."
—Helen Rizzo, The American University in Cairo
Introduction. Part I: (Women’s) Human Rights, Domestic NGOs And The Challenge Of Transnationalization: A Theoretical Framework 1. (Women’s) Human Rights And Culture 2. ‘Transnationalism Reversed’ – Reframing The IR Debate On The Role Of NGOs In Processes Of Domestic Norm-Socialisation Part II: The Socialization Of Women’s Human Rights In Egypt And Iran: A Comparative Case Study 3. Contextualizing NGO-activism on Women’s Human Rights in Egypt 4. Contextualizing NGO-activism on Women’s Human Rights in Iran 5. ‘Transnationalism Reversed’ and Women’s Human Rights Activism in Egypt and Iran Conclusion: Refining Theories On Domestic Norm Socialization And Transnationalization
Benjamin Stachursky is working as a consultant in the field of development cooperation for the German Agency for International Cooperation.