Changing narratives? Shifting discursive conceptualisations of post-conflict peace-building

Randazzo Elisa 2015. Changing narratives? Shifting discursive conceptualisations of post-conflict peace-building. PhD thesis University of Westminster Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities

TitleChanging narratives? Shifting discursive conceptualisations of post-conflict peace-building
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsRandazzo Elisa

This thesis assesses the rationale behind the shifts, ruptures and paradigm changes within the scholarship on peace-building. In particular, the thesis is concerned with examining if, and how, these shifts have significantly altered the manner in which the foundational elements of thinking about peace-building have changed beyond the ‘liberal peace-building’ paradigm. To do so, the thesis engages with the logic of critique that has led to the emergence of different theoretical approaches to peace-building that culminate with the ‘local turn’. The thesis begins by tracing an initial shift towards more invasive forms of peace-building in the late 1990s-early 2000s, before engaging with the emergence of the local turn. The research focuses on the case of Kosovo in order to understand how a lessons-learnt approach facilitated the shift towards more invasive and intrusive forms of peace-building, which can be understood less as a deep reconceptualisation of the manner of conducting peace-building operations and more as a refinement of methods of socio-political engineering from the outside. Furthermore, the case of Kosovo is also central to the local turn, as the rise of local ownership discourses is fundamentally tied to the critiques of the extensive international mission in the territory, and of its by-products, particularly resistance and marginalisation of local agency. Along with an assessment of the theoretical underpinnings of the shift towards post-liberal, relational and non-linear approaches to bottom-up peace-building, the thesis examines the implications of the framing of the ‘everyday’ in order to assess the extent to which these bottom-up approaches have been able to by-pass the problems attributed to the liberal peace approach. By looking at its normative project of change, the thesis argues that despite its critical and radical intentions the local turn retains certain foundational epistemological and ontological elements of modernist and positivist approaches that have so far characterised the very mainstream approaches these critiques claim to transcend.


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