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Call for papers and panels

Putting Public in Public Services: Research, Action and Equity in the Global South

Download PDF version (aussi disponible en français) ***Closed***

We are inviting proposals for original papers and panels on alternatives to privatization and the provision of public services in the global South, to be presented at an international conference from April 13-16, 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa.

The conference will bring together researchers, activists, labour representatives, development practitioners and policy makers from around the world working to promote progressive public services, with an emphasis on health, water and electricity. We are seeking papers and panels that showcase promising alternatives to private provision, as well as those which push forward our conceptual and methodological understandings of how public attitudes and practices arise, how they are constituted, and how they might be sustained. While there can be no universal definition of ‘public’ the conference aims to improve dialogue and expand global networks on public alternatives, with a focus on Asia, Africa and Latin America. We expect papers to go beyond a mere critique of privatization to offering practical and theoretical understandings of pro-public services (past, present and future).

CONFERENCE STRUCTURE: Approximately 100 attendees from academia, labour, social movements, NGOs and international organizations will take part in a three-day conference featuring plenary sessions as well as parallel panels. The deadline for abstract or panel proposals is August 1. The full event program will be available in January 2014.

TOPICS: We are looking for theoretically and practically oriented contributions from academics and practitioners. Papers can have a regional (Africa, Asia, Latin America) and/or sectoral focus (water, electricity, health) and should represent original work. The following list is indicative of the kinds of themes we are interested in, but all topics will be considered, as long as they meet the central conference theme of researching and promoting progressive public services.

Theory and Methodology
•    Measuring success in public services
•    Gender, feminist theory and public services
•    Technology and innovation in public services
•    Universality and equity
•    Health systems and public services
•    Human rights and public services
•    Meanings of public and counter-publics
•    Historical models of public services
•    Reclaiming ‘the commons’
•    Public financing

Global trends
•    Remunicipalisation and renationalization
•    Corporatization: Beyond New Public Management?
•    Public financing innovations
•    Community-based monitoring of public services
•    Faith-based service provision
•    South-south solidarities
•    Public-public partnerships
•    Creating public universal health services
•    Co-production of services (state-community, etc)

Actions for change
•    Creating a global movement for pro-public services
•    Labour-community alliances in public services
•    Legal tools in the struggle for public services
•    Linking climate justice and public services
•    Networking for change
•    Pro-public media campaigns


Paper abstracts
•    Title: 125 characters maximum
•    Author(s): contact information, including name(s), address, email and institutional affiliation, as well as a list of relevant activities/publications
•    Paper abstract: max 500 words

Panel proposals
•    Panel title: 125 characters maximum
•    Panel Chair: contact information, including name(s), address, email and institutional affiliation, as well as a list of relevant activities/publications
•    Rationale for panel: max 500 words
•    Proposed panel participants: names, addresses, emails and institutional affiliations, as well as lists of relevant activities/publications (max. 3 panelists)
•    Paper abstracts (as specified above, max. 3 papers per panel)

Abstracts and panel proposals should be submitted as email attachments (doc, .docx, or .pdf) to Madeleine Bélanger Dumontier at They can be submitted in English, French or Spanish, but all conference proceedings will be conducted in English due to resource constraints. Please indicate if you will be requesting financial assistance. Proposals will be reviewed as they are submitted, up to the final deadline of August 1, 2013. ***Call is closed***

Abstracts and panels will be judged on their relevance to the conference themes, creativity and originality.

FINAL PAPER SUBMISSION: Final papers can be between 3,000-8,000 words, but other formats will be considered depending on the content of the presentation. Detailed guidelines will be provided to authors upon acceptance of an abstract. The deadline for paper submission will be February 28, 2014. All conference papers will be considered for publication in the official Conference Proceedings, as well as for possible publication as an MSP Occasional Paper or Briefing Note, in consultation with the author(s).

Abstract and Panel Submission Deadline: August 1, 2013
Notification of acceptance: September 30, 2013
Full paper submission: February 28, 2014
REGISTRATION: All presenters will be expected to register online once their abstract is accepted. Registration is free for all accepted delegates and participants, and will start October 1, 2013.

FINANCIAL SUPPORT: Some financial support will be available for travel and accommodation, depending on need and availability of funds, with priority given to participants from the South. Contributors requesting financial assistance should indicate this when submitting an abstract.

VENUE: The conference will be held at the Townhouse Hotel and Conference Centre in central Cape Town, where a block of rooms have been set aside at discounted rates. Additional accommodation options will also be available nearby at a wide range of prices.

CONTACT: For any questions related to the conference or abstract submission please contact Madeleine Bélanger Dumontier at