Governing the global locally: Agonistic democracy practices in The Hague’s Schilderswijk

Cities have become stages for (inter)national conflicts over political and religious identity, democratic values and ownership of place. These ‘glocal urban conflicts’ challenge local actors to respond immediately and effectively in ways that prevent escalation and strengthen democratic relations. The theory of agonistic democracy provides a valuable model that celebrates difference and inclusiveness to foster democracy. There is, however, little understanding of how these agnostic ideals are practiced in rapidly unfolding situations. This article provides a case study to further our understanding of dealing with conflicts where global tensions are enacted at the street level. It proposes an interpretative approach that brings into focus how a decentred network of local professionals practice agnostic democracy in action. The local government of The Hague was challenged to ‘govern the global locally’ when young Muslims waved flags allying with ISIS on the streets of the Schilderswijk neighbourhood. A series of local demonstrations required appropriate responses in a highly mediatised conflict. The analysis provides three ‘critical moments’ that function as a lens to study governance practices that underscore diversity as a political resource. Practices of ‘governing meaning’ and ‘governing the street’ addressed concerns about security, ownership and local grievances.

Verloo, N. (2017). Governing the global locally: Agonistic democracy practices in The Hague’s Schilderswijk. Urban Studies 55.11, pp. 2354 - 2371. DOI:

Image credits

Icon image: Fotograaf: Edwin van Eis. Damstraat/Oudezijds Voorburgwal, uit Fotobank Gemeente Amsterdam