Stories of Democracy - An Oral History Project
This archive is an initial multimedia presentation of personal experiences during founding and transitional elections through a project under development, the Stories of Democracy Project. While it is recognized that some of the countries featured in the stories are currently experiencing challenges in governance, the stories describe a time when democracy held promise for them and an aspiration which they can re-achieve. As of now, there is only one storyteller for each narration of the different elections, however in an expanded version of the project, multiple storytellers, both domestic and international, will be posted.
From the 1970s to the early 2000s, there was a global movement of founding and transitional elections as countries moved from conflict or authoritarian rule to democratic governance. Many of these elections took place during a historical period which has been termed the “Third Wave” of democracy. Thousands of individuals from around the world were engaged by their nation’s electoral institutions, inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations to administer or assist in conducting as well as observing these elections. Some lost their lives in doing so. Such commitments suggests that there is a personal dimension to an individual’s engagement in these elections which needs to be documented for historical purposes.
The exchanges which these individuals had with each other represented an unprecedent union of people from many different countries coming together in a common purpose to support elections and democracy. Many of these personal relationships remain active.
While scholarly research has been conducted into the strategies and impact of electoral assistance, there is no repository to archive the personal experiences of individuals involved with these initiatives, meaning the potential insights these experiences can bring to policy-makers and practitioners are lost. In order to avoid the loss of these valuable sources, the Stories of Democracy Project was created with the objective to establish a historical collection of photographs, videos, audio recordings, documents, and other memorabilia from individuals who participated in electoral administration, assistance, or observation.
These elections were conducted at a time when democracy was in an ascendency. The current global wave of democratic backsliding, however, means that the vision of this period in history, along with the experiences of those who participated in these elections, have started to fall into obscurity. By capturing their stories, this can be prevented. As a result, current and future generations will be able to learn about the personal sacrifices and commitments necessary to make elections and democracies function.
This project intends to bring these insights together into a collection organized by election, thematic focus, and individual. In addition to the human dimension perspective, this project will be valuable for researchers in that it provides a consolidated historical archive of experiences and insights not available from other sources.
The following elections and individuals have been selected to profile for this initial presentation.