Here the official abstract by the organizers:
The famous slogan “the end of history” proved to be a historical misjudgment. Instead of linear progress towards liberal democracies we are confronted with new setbacks of democratization, emergence of grey-zone regimes between democracy and authoritarianism and new and supposedly attractive forms of authoritarianism. Classical authoritarianism seeks for absolute obedience, is directed against individual freedom and liberties and is always ready to use hard repression against opponents. New authoritarian or grey-zone regimes are chameleon-like – they are able to adjust to new circumstances, they have institutionalized representation of a variety of agents and they even incorporate some democratic procedures like elections and thus create a structure resistant to change. Moreover, they rely mostly only on soft repression and seem to enjoy the support of considerable parts of the people. In Eastern and South Eastern Europe, in the Caucasus, in Asia we are witnessing new semi-democratic or electoral authoritarian regimes, which – under the guise of formal democratic procedures – limit individual freedom and reduce liberties. New forms of authoritarian rule seem to be attractive, flexible and adaptable, and functional alternatives to the regime in some regions such as Asia, Eastern Europe and the Caucasian rim. Regimes able to reconcile competitive elections, multi-party systems, parliaments, constitutions and other elements of rule usually associated with liberal democracies on the one hand side with the functional logic of authoritarianism on the other. They pose new questions and call for deeper rethinking of concepts of authoritarianism and hybrid regimes.
The guiding questions are: Why are they resilient, endurable, and why do they enjoy a considerable consent of the people?
The workshop was split between conceptual and case-study contributions. I found the question of attractively of authoritarian types of governance an extremely interesting one. My presentation on the techniques of authoritarian governance in Morocco was closely linked to my interest in investigating legitimacy in authoritarian contexts. More generally, I am particularly interested in legitimacy of authoritarian regimes in during episodes of contentious politics. Questions I deal with concern regime responses’ to protest that aim to bolster or re-establish the legitimacy of the regime. How can regimes successfully overcome moments of crisis and what role does the claimed and perceived legitimacy play in such episodes?
I will continue to deal with these questions, as there are plans for a follow-up workshop, which will be aimed towards as publication. Furthermore I am presenting a paper titled: "Legitimacy through Reform? Institutional Reforms in Morocco 2011 & the Procedural Legitimacy of Contested Regimes." which touches upon many points related to the workshop in Berlin.
All in all the group of scholars brought together for this workshop and the presentations and discussions were very interesting and inspiring. Especially the country studies were very interesting as we covered a wide range of countries which were presented by excellent country experts and the workshop gave an impressions of particularities and similarities between different authoritarian regimes in varying regions of the world. Concluding, I hope this workshop will be followed up upon and there will be an opportunity to present a more nuanced argument with a narrower theoretical approach and a common research question to improve the compatibility of the papers towards a joint output.