Theory of Engaged Collaboration Across Borders: Alternative Perspective on Transnational Advocacy Networks

Friday, July 18, 2014: 5:45 PM
Room: 418
Oral Presentation
Ma. Larissa Lelu GATA , University of the Philippines, Los Baņos, Laguna, Philippines
This paper proposes a theory of engaged collaboration across borders to explain the process by which local environmental campaign initiated in a Third World setting transforms into a transnational advocacy network. I use grounded theory as tool for analysis in examining archival documents and interviews (n=31) to understand the experiences of partner-organizations of a transnational advocacy network for the environmental cleanup campaign on the toxic contamination in the former US military bases in the Philippines. To invoke international support, this campaign develops a tactical repertoire which includes networking, information-sharing, participatory and direct action, legal engagement, and engaged collaboration. What I define as “theory of engaged collaboration” emphasizes an alternative route to Keck and Sikkink’s (1998) Boomerang pattern and a corollary to Wu’s (2005) Double mobilization model. I theorize that the nature of relationships among partner-organizations within transnational advocacy networks can evolve from mere information sharing into a more engaged collaboration based on various dimensions salient to the ongoing processes in the network. The emphasis lies on how domestic NGO organizes a TAN so that external advocates become involved in the lives of the community being advocated on. In the case study, three prominent dimensions of engaged collaboration are present. The technical/legal dimension comprises the strategic decisions on information sharing, policy advocacy, research, and litigation aspects of activism. The ethical dimension covers the moral and affective aspects of the campaign using victimization frame. Finally, the ethnic dimension caters to the collective identity of the campaign anchored on Filipino nationalist identity and the underlying colonial past that created it. Thus, this theory on engaged collaboration enriches the literature because it takes into account how the external advocates deepen their involvement in domestic affairs not only with their partner-organizations and the targeted states, but more importantly with the community of victims.