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Understanding public authority and legitimacy is an emerging challenge for strengthening inclusive governance in fragile and conflict affected contexts. This panel focuses on understanding what public authority means for people's lives and our thinking about how governance 'happens' in reality.
Estimates suggest that by 2030, more than eighty percent of the world's poorest will be living in contexts characterized by fragility, violence and conflict, in which they experience governance from and through multiple sources of public authority beyond the official state. We know a range of non-state actors matter: armed groups, rival political factions, religious leaders, informal/traditional institutions. Transitions from such contexts to relatively stable, institutionalized states is fraught with challenges for people as well as institutions of authority. This panel invites paper presentations from researchers and practitioners exploring the issue of complex governance environments: specifically, how is public authority generated and legitimized in these settings. What does authority look like in these settings? What kind of governance practices play out where public authority is contested and diverse? How accountable are non-state forms of public authority? Which forms are seen as legitimate? What conditions enable people to act collectively and shape the social contract? Papers or short visual presentations are particularly welcome if they are based on empirical cases or speak to the conceptual challenges of working with diverse set of public authorities in these contexts. We also encourage short stories, films, poems and other media that offer new insights on these issues.