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Challenges to ‘the local turn’ in peacebuilding: tentative findings from Nepal and Cambodia

Konferensbidrag (offentliggjort, men ej förlagsutgivet)
Författare Martin Lundqvist
Publicerad i South Asia across the Nordic Region 1st Annual Meeting | University of Copenhagen | 27th June 2017
Publiceringsår 2017
Publicerad vid Institutionen för globala studier
Språk en
Länkar asiandynamics.ku.dk/english/adi-con...
Ämneskategorier Freds- och utvecklingsforskning, Freds- och konfliktforskning


This article investigates the post-conflict environment in Nepal and Cambodia through the theoretical lens of ‘the local turn’ in peacebuilding. Specifically, the paper explores the most common critique of the local turn via in-depth case studies from one district in Nepal and Cambodia, respectively. The critique centres on the frequent political atomism of local peace initiatives; their tendency to turn into problematic ‘localism’, and their invariable subordination to national power dynamics. But how does this assessment hold up against the empirical material from Nepal and Cambodia? The analysis is organized thematically along the lines of the critique, thus feeding insights back into the peacebuilding literature. The overarching research question of this study is: What do the cases from Nepal and Cambodia suggest about the critique of the local turn in peacebuilding? Methodologically, the article draws on periods of fieldwork in Nepal and Cambodia, where semi-structured interviews were carried out during 2015 and 2017. Interlocutors include, inter alia, local politicians, peace committee members, businesspeople, civil servants, and conflict mediation professionals. The findings demonstrate that the critique of the local turn carries some relevance in both of the cases. The convergence between the critique and the case studies is, however, not a perfect match, and some interesting divergences appear, as outlined in the conclusion of this article. Overall, this suggests that the critique needs to be more grounded, and take into consideration the peculiarities of local contexts in order to be relevant. Moreover, it indicates that the critique is sometimes altogether misguided.

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