Haggart, Blayne, Tusikov, Natasha, and Scholte, Jan Aart (2021) (eds). Power and Authority in Internet Governance: Return of the State? Routledge Global Cooperation Series, Abingdon, Oxon, New York, NY: Routledge.

Power and Authority in Internet Governance investigates the hotly contested role of the state in today's digital society. The book cautions an all too easy juxtaposition of authoritarian vs. democratic state governance. This, as the editors stress in their introductory remarks, draws attention away from what they see as some important underlying dynamics. Based on a workshop, organized by the Centre’s first internet fellows Blayne Haggart and Natasha Tusikova together with Co-Director Jan Aart Scholte, the contributions, in particular those on China (Lianrui Jia, Ting Luo, Aofei Lv) and Russia (Ilona Stadnik),  contain a degree of detailed empirical analysis of authoritarian states that is uncommon in English-language texts. The editors are to be applauded for achieving 'a more nuanced account of authoritarian states in internet governance' (251) than typically found in the literature.

The volume begins with a bird's eye view of the typology of internet governance (Mauro Santaniello), the role of states at ICANN (Olga Cavalli and Jan Aart Scholte), value competition in a single regime complex (Niels ten Oever) and the changing role of the state in an emerging data-driven economy (Dan Ciuriak and Maria Ptashkina); it then scrutinizes internet governance in authoritarian and democratic states. Of interest to readers will be a comparison of these depictions of the state of the art in China and Russia with those in Brazil (Jhessica Reia, Luã Fergus Cruz), Latin America broadly (Jean-Marie Chenou), and the EU (Julia Rone). It seems that institutional and historical contexts contribute much to a possible explanation of differences in approaches and perceived regulatory needs. The role of civil society involvement is an underlying theme in almost all contributions because it has been instrumental in spreading digital culture and 'literacy' in many countries. Civil society feels sidelined, however, in many contemporary scenarios. Smart cities in Brazil seem to provide a case study on this particular issue (Jhessica Reia, Luã Fergus Cruz).

The real opposition is not simply between democratic and authoritarian states, but between those conceptions of government that are directed toward serving the common and those that are not; the opposition is not contingent on particular political underpinnings. Global capitalism is depicted as antagonistic to ideas of public interest. In the end, the editors indicate sympathy with 'a carefully crafted return of the state in internet governance’


Heins, Volker M., van Riemsdijk, Micheline, and Marchand, Marianne H. (2021). ‘Special Issue: New Actors and Contested Architectures in Global Migration Governance’, Third World Quarterly, 42(1). [Open Access]

Guest edited by scholars related to the Centre with contributions from associated fellows, this special issue of Third World Quarterly— result of an endeavor that once started with an author’s workshop  at the Centre in 2019—provides a survey of current research on global migration governance. The volume seeks to contribute to an understanding of the complexities of migration governance from the local level to the global. It discusses recent developments in global migration governance, including the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (Pécoud), and aims to provide insights into whether migration can be merely ‘managed’ by states, as an increasing number of non-state actors shape international migration flows. A basic reference of this special issue is the work of Ronaldo Munck with whom the editors share the uneasy belief that as long as structural inequalities prevail, the concept of 'Global South' vs. 'Global North' has to be continued. Almost all contributing authors share local/regional expertise and contribute challenging question from the ground: migration caravans and temporary migration visas in Mexiko (Marchand), a responsibility gap in host countries like Lebanon around the repatriation of refugees from Syria (Fakhoury), civic activism of formal and informal refugee-led Syrian community organizations in Turkey (Mencutek), the criminalization of migrant rescue in the Sahara, in the Mediterranean and across Europe (Ben-Arieh and Heins). The securitization of migrants using digital tools is ubiquitous, but how these data are shared – or not – is quite peculiar (Glouftsios and Scheel). Spheres of power and influence do exist between states, and between states and non-state actors, but also between IOs. The uneasy coordination between IOM and UNHCR in the Asia-Pacific region provides a current case (Moretti). Regional architectures are prominent in this special issue, spanning the Asia-Pacific, Africa, NAFTA and the EU. This contributes to the impression that a sharp eye on local specificities is well combined in this special issue with an awareness and lucid reflections about the obstacles to better cooperation for good governance (beware: the dark side cooperates as well).  

Reviews: Martin Wolf


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