Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Citizenship, Democratic Participation, Capabilities, Coloniality, South- South Dialogue India-Brazil


This chapter argues that North-South dialogue is heavily influenced by the colonial past and burdened by extreme power inequalities. Former colonizing nations control many of the agendas of such dialogue, exposing it to the risks of paternalism, post-colonialism, and tutelage. As a result, coloniality is a condition difficult to escape in north-south dialogue. South-south dialogue, on the other hand, is less implicated by this burden, thus offering a platform for a potentially free - and freeing – critical interchange of ideas and empirical examples that reflect subaltern experiences and provide opportunities for mutual learning. One area where this dialogue is particularly promising is around the themes of democracy, citizenship, participation, and development. Examples from both Brazil and India of participatory budgeting, participatory planning, and participatory policy-making clearly demonstrate that democratic participation has a positive impact on democracy and development – especially when development is understood the way Amartya Sen (1999) has defined it, namely as an extension of capabilities and agency, both at the individual and the collective levels. By comparing examples of democratic participation from India and Brazil, this paper points at the potential for south-south dialogue and argues for a reconceptualization of such core Western ideas as democracy, citizenship, and development by anchoring them in a strong conception of active citizenship and direct democratic participation.

Was this content written or created while at USF?


Citation / Publisher Attribution

Paper presented at International Conference: India-Brazil Dialogue on October, 2011 in Goa, India.