Contested Transparencies

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Special Issue of Re-Public



"Transparency has been heralded as a necessary tool for democratic government: openness, visibility, scrutiny, and oversight would render governments less corrupt and accountable to their citizens, who in turn would be able to exercise democratic control over the former. In spite of the current global fashion that transparency enjoys and the relative success of the implementation of relevant projects in several counties, transparency is increasingly challenged in the public sphere by voices of mistrust and criticism. Conservative critiques claim that the full disclosure of information weakens the authority of the state; realist critiques point to the gap between professed transparency goals and the actual outcomes of transparency projects; radical critiques argue that transparency has become an increasingly de-politicised technical process, where public participation has inconsequential political effects.

The global impact of the wikileaks affair has made this discussion even more topical. Not only did it bring to the fore the limits of transparency for all camps involved but it also re-frames the debate regarding its political role, the ways in which it is implemented and the contested discrepancies between the discourse on transparency and the operation of current political regimes, liberal and authoritarian alike.

It is against this backdrop that this collection of papers is published. The goal of the special issue is to critically engage with the repercussions of the concept of transparency and its operationalisation, as well as with its underlying assumptions, without mythologizing or vilifying it." (


  1. Archon Fung – Transparency is a necessary but insufficient condition for democratic control [1]
  1. Theodoros Rakopoulos – From the ‘moral question’ of the communists to ‘legalità’ of the NGOs: transparency and anti-mafia rhetoric in contemporary Italian activism [2]
  1. Sacha Geer – Transparency and racialized political systems: A case study of Trinidad and Tobago [3]
  1. Chris Brown – Corporate social responsibility: Market extension dressed up as transparency [4]
  1. Contested transparencies in Greece: A conversation with Alexandros Melidis and Prodromos Tsiavos [5]
  1. Lydia Munyi – A critical examination of the extractive industry transparency initiative: How can it benefit the poor in mineral dependent economies? [6]
  1. Saleh Ahmed – Transparency and redistributive urban politics in Dhaka [7]
  1. Costas Davarakis – Synchronous or asynchronous transparency? [8]
  1. Alexandros Melidis – Are leaks thinkable in the age of transparency? [9]