Democracy Lighthouse

Welcome to the Democracy Lighthouse

Launched during a period of mounting global anxiety and widespread political unrest about democracy’s future, our platform is perhaps the world’s first comprehensive depository of information about the hundreds of organisations and networks engaged in reimagining, advocating and researching the past, present and future of democracy. 

Funded and supported by the Toda Peace Institute, this lighthouse is an integral part of Toda’s Global Challenges to Democracy programme. The platform isn’t a political organisation or party-political grouping; it is an independent beacon and distributor of information on the global subversion and renewal of democracy. Democracy Lighthouse offers guidance to researchers, teachers, students, journalists, politicians, lawyers, public officials, NGO activists and citizens worried about the worldwide threats faced by democracy, many of them actively researching and inventing new ways of rejuvenating the spirit and substance of democracy. 
 
Democracy Lighthouse offers visitors open and easy access to materials which are otherwise invisible, or not easily found on social media, radio and television, or in newspapers, magazines and books. English is the platform’s primary working language, but it is our aim, wherever feasible, to provide links to resources in other languages. 
 
Democracy Lighthouse does not comment on the work of the organisations and networks displayed on these pages. Its aim is more modest and ecumenical: to make publicly available a wide range of different materials, voices, opinions and ways of thinking. It does so in support of our passionate belief that in these troubled times, democracy – popular self-government and a whole way of life committed to the non-violent refusal of arbitrary power – remains an indispensable planetary ideal.

Democracy by continents

Endorsements

“An ambitious, globally important project whose lighthouse metaphor does more than acknowledge the dark and stormy conditions threatening democracy almost everywhere. Democracy Lighthouse also makes available vital information resources to daring democracy mariners.”
Abdelwahab El-Affendi is Provost and President of the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies. He has been a Visiting Fellow/Professor at the Christian Michelsen Institute (Norway), the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, Northwestern University, and Malaysia’s International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization. A regular contributor to Al Jazeera, he has delivered keynote speeches and lectures at universities in five continents, including most major universities in the US and UK. His most recent publications include Genocidal Nightmares: Narratives of Insecurity and the Logic of Mass Atrocities (2015) and (co-edited with Khalil Al Anani) After the Arab Revolutions: Decentring Democratic Transition Theory (2021).
“A future for democracy requires more than defending existing forms against assault. Instead, we need to imagine and experiment with democratic practices appropriate to twenty-first century global powers and the challenges of the Anthropocene. Democracy Lighthouse makes an essential contribution to this work.”
Wendy Brown is UPS Foundation Professor in the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, and professor emerita of Political Science and Critical Theory at UC Berkeley. The author and editor of more than a dozen books, she is best known for her interrogation of identity politics and state power in States of Injury: Power and Freedom in Late Modernity; her critical analysis of tolerance in Regulating Aversion: Tolerance in the Age of Identity and Empire; her account of the global political inter-regnum in Walled States, Waning Sovereignty; and her study of neoliberalism’s multi-pronged assault on democratic principles and practices in Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution. Her newest book, Nihilistic Times: Thinking with Max Weber, reflects on the forces of nihilism corroding contemporary political and intellectual life.
“In a moment of human history when civicness is confronted by great challenges, and democracy needs to be reimagined and renewed, building a platform that can provide credible information on actors who are promoting democracy and peace building, and standing firmly against genocide and war, is a noble task. I am proud to endorse Democracy Lighthouse as an initiative aiming to sustain a global civil society seeking justice and dignity.”
Heba Raouf Ezzat is an Egyptian political scientist who currently teaches at Ibn Haldun University in Istanbul. She previously taught political theory at Cairo University (2007-2013), where she obtained her MA and Ph.D, and at the American University in Cairo (2006-2013). Her diverse research interests include international relations in Islamic history and the modern Islamic world, global civil society and its paradoxes, as well as the topics of global legitimacy and global governance. After the Arab uprisings of 2011, her research focused on the regional dynamics, shifting political alliances, civil-military relations, and diverse logics of action in Arab politics and society. She is also widely known for her writings on women’s issues and Islamic political movements.
Democracy Lighthouse is a wonderful project – an amazing source of information for scholars, but also for everybody interested in the history and current state of democracy.”
Daniel Gascón is the editor-in-chief of the Spanish edition of Letras Libres and is a weekly political columnist for El País. He is the author of two novels, Un hipster en la España vacía (2020) and La muerte del hipster (2021); four collections of short stories, most recently El padre de tus hijos (2023); and El golpe posmoderno, 15 lecciones para el futuro de la democracia (2018), an analysis of the Catalan independence movement. 
Democracy Lighthouse is a much-needed resource for all who seek inspiration and ideas from advocates and architects of people-centred solutions to big problems around the world. Each context is unique, but we also face common challenges and may have shareable solutions. This platform tells us we are not as alone as we think.”
Cherian George is Professor of Media Studies, Hong Kong Baptist University, and a founder of the Singaporean academic collective, AcademiaSG. His books include Hate Spin: The Manufacture of Religious Offense and its Threat to Democracy (2016).
Democracy Lighthouse is a beacon for everyone working on, sustaining, and reimagining democracy. With its broad and deep representation of institutions located in the ‘global south’, it is truly global as well as potentially subversive of inherited power relations and global inequalities. Successful research and activism to rejuvenate and reform democratic possibilities requires perspectives from everywhere, but especially from those countries and regions where the promise of democracy has yet to be fully felt in the lives of all.”
Lawrence Hamilton is Professor of Political Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg. Known widely for his rethinking of politics from and for the global South, he currently holds the Bilateral Research Chair in Political Theory at Cambridge University. His many books include Are South Africans Free? (2014); Freedom is Power: Liberty Through Political Representation (2014); and How To Read Amartya Sen (2020). Co-founder and co-director of the Association for Political Theory in Africa (APTA), he is working on a book on the future of democracy.
“Democracy is at risk. In support of its reformulation and revitalization, and for initiating thought and action, both individual and collective, Democracy Lighthouse is a fantastic toolkit.”
Takashi Inoguchi is Professor Emeritus, University of Tokyo, ex-President of the University of Niigata Prefecture, and former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations assigned to the United Nations University Tokyo Headquarters. He is the author of more than 100 books, including American Democracy Promotion (2000), Japanese Politics Today: From Karaoke to Kabuki Democracy (2011) and The Development of Global Legislative Politics(2020). A member of the Science Council of Japan and founding editor of the Japanese Journal of Political Science, he directed the AsiaBarometer Project and chaired the Asian Consortium for Political Research.
“The substantive spirit of democracy is an ancient dream whose shadow has ever haunted the resilient hierarchies of money and power that have always sought to govern the world. The struggle for preserving democratic values is a global one, manifest in many locations, and it is urgent at a time when the appeal of authoritarians is ascendant. Democracy Lighthouse illuminates this important work. Our planetary and political crises demand that we take it seriously.”
Nitasha Kaul is a multidisciplinary academic, award-winning novelist, economist, poet, and prominent public intellectual. She is Director of London’s Centre for the Study of Democracy (CSD) at the University of Westminster. She has published widely on the themes of democracy and human rights, political economy, Hindutva/Indian politics, technology, identity, the rise of right-wing nationalism, feminism and post-colonialism, small states in geopolitics, and Bhutan, Kerala, and Kashmir.
Democracy Lighthouse will inform, encourage, and link together numerous defenders of democracy, who usually operate without much knowledge of the work done by others. It will help turn democracy’s present crisis into an opportunity for rethinking and renewal on a global scale. Facilitating the cooperation of intellectuals, scholars, and democracy advocates, Democracy Lighthouse is a great project which deserves our full support.”
Among Germany’s most prominent historians, Jürgen Kocka has published many books, particularly on the history of social classes, entrepreneurship, and capitalism. He has been a Permanent Fellow of Berlin’s Wissenschaftskolleg, President of the Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB), and Vice-President of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences. He has received honorary degrees from several European universities and many prizes, including Norway’s prestigious Holberg Prize (2011). He taught modern history at the University of Bielefeld, the Free University Berlin and UCLA, and is currently an Honorary Fellow of St Antony’s College Oxford, a member of several academies in Europe, the US and Korea, and a Senior Fellow of the Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History, Potsdam.
Democracy Lighthouse is a fantastic initiative. Over the next decade democracy all over the world needs to be simultaneously strengthened, reformed and reimagined, to counter the many threats it faces. That work needs to be guided by understanding of both history and the present, by evidence as well as vigorous experiment and cross-pollination of promising ideas. After all, democracy is as much a verb as a noun and much more a work in progress than a completed project. All of us can play a part in the next phase of its evolution and Democracy Lighthouse can help weave the many threads together.”
Sir Geoff Mulgan is Professor at University College London (UCL), former CEO of Nesta and the Young Foundation, director of the UK Government’s Strategy Unit, head of policy in the Prime Minister’s office, & author of many books, including Another World is Possible: How to Reignite Social and Political Imagination (2022) and When Science Meets Power (2024).
“The risks facing humanity in the 21st century are increasingly profound and shared: climate change and the destruction of ecosystems; growing socioeconomic inequality and individual and collective insecurity; spreading crime and violence; and the erosion of democracy, political rights and freedoms and the deterioration of civilized and tolerant coexistence among peoples. This complex panorama requires a shared multinational response. Mexican democracy will be less fragile if the global democratic environment is strengthened to deal with present-day and future challenges. That is why Democracy Lighthouse is an initiative that illuminates a path towards democratic dialogue and cooperation.”
Ciro Murayama is a professor of economics at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). Former counselor of the National Electoral Institute of Mexico (INE), he is a member of the governing board of the Institute for the Democratic Transition in Mexico. His research has focused on elections, political corruption and the economics of education, labour markets, health care and football. His books include Elecciones, dinero y corrupción : Pemexgate y Amigos de Fox (2006); La democracia a prueba. Elecciones en la era de la posverdad (Democracy on Trial. Elections in the post-truth era, 2019); and La democracia no se toca (Democracy must not be damaged, 2023).
Democracy Lighthouse is a very inspiring and fruitful initiative. It will not only enable the collection and production of knowledge about the past, present, and future of democracy. In a period when democracy seems trapped in the dark tunnels of populism and authoritarian regimes, it’s an undertaking of utmost importance to the tasks of shedding light on democracy and keeping alive hopes for humanity’s future.”
Dragica Vujadinović is Professor in the Faculty of Law, University of Belgrade, where she teaches political and legal theory, gender studies and European integration. She coordinated the University of Belgrade’s UniSAFE project of combatting gender-based violence in academia and is an active member of the Faculty of Law’s Building Gender Equality team. The co-editor of Springer’s multi-volume book series Gender Perspectives in Law, her books include Between Authoritarianism and Democracy: Serbia at the Political Crossroads (2009); Civilno društvo i političke institucije (Civil Society and Political Institution [2009]); Identity, Political and Human Rights Culture as Prerequisities of Constitutional Democracy (2013);European Democracy in Crisis: Polities under Challenge and Social Movements (2018); and Gender and Power: Legal and Political Intersectional Perspectives in the Global Context (forthcoming)
Democracy Lighthouse is a most welcome and much-needed global guide to the organisations and networks preoccupied with researching, reimagining, and advocating democracy. Offering details of global struggles for democracy in all walks of life, it points towards a future where guaranteed access to decision making for all affected stakeholders will be a basic right.”
Antje Wiener holds the Chair of Political Science in the field of Global Governance at the University of Hamburg. She is an elected By-Fellow of Hughes Hall at the University of Cambridge, a Fellow of the UK’s Academy of Social Sciences, and a member of Academia Europea. Her research and teaching focus on international relations theory, especially concerning norms and contestations. Previously she held Chairs in International Studies at Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Bath and taught at the Universities of Stanford, Carleton, Sussex, and Hannover. Her current research projects in Hamburg include ‘Contested Climate Justice in Sensitive Regions’ and  ‘Doing Theory – From Where and What For? A Backpackers’ Guide to Knowledge Production’. Her most recent books are the award-winning Contestation and Constitution of Norms in Global International Relations (2018) and (with Phil Orchard) Contesting the World: Norm Research in Theory and Practice (2024).