Dealing with subjective aspects in the analysis of peacebuilding has become increasingly important. The growth of ethnographic studies in peacebuilding, pushed by the ‘local turn’, has contributed to a profound rethinking of peacebuilding efficacy, highlighting the need for researchers to engage with the subjective aspects that compound local actions and reactions to internationally-led peace activities. Starting from the premise that peacebuilding is experiential (Millar, 2014) and that, in order to understand the ‘other’ it is crucial that a platform of communication is well established, in this post would like to explore a couple of challenges related to the process of … Continue reading Grasping local perceptions in the analysis of peacebuilding
Discussing subjective aspects of peace, violence and power is as fascinating as challenging. I recently finished reading a book from Gearoid Millar, An Ethnographic Approach to Peacebuilding. Understanding Local Experiences in Transitional States, which reminded me of many of the processes that I lived during my own fieldwork in Mozambique back in 2012/2013 and which, eventually, led me to dive into my current research, focusing on subjective aspects of peace. As I really enjoyed this book – and I definitely recommend it to anyone planning to go on fieldwork in peacebuilding settings (in fact, I wish it came out before … Continue reading Review of ‘An Ethnographic Approach to Peacebuilding’
Following up on my previous post, I would like to discuss today the construction of taboos surrounding violence, or, in other words ‘why some forms of violence are regarded as ‘legitimate’ while others are portrayed as ‘illegitimate’?’ Just to make it clear, please note that I am not apologetic to any kind of violence. I would rather live in a violence-free world. But I don’t, so it seems important to open the question of how violence is classified and why. Let me start this reflection with a quick story. Back in 2012, while I was conducting a focus group in … Continue reading Defining taboos of violence: who sets the threshold of legitimacy?
Peace has been traditionally understood in relation to its opposite. In International Relations this opposite has been described as ‘war’ or ‘violent conflict’. In Peace Studies and Research, following the work of Johan Galtung, peace has been discussed in opposition to violence more generally. In this case, whereas war is one expression of violence, violence is a broader concept that entails both a direct manifestation, where the subject of violence is clearly defined, as well as a structural aspect, where the ‘actor’ that exerts violence is not as visible, and yet its victims are. The analysis of peacebuilding has been … Continue reading Peacebuilding as a Response to War or Violence? Contradictions of a Field and Practical Implications
One of the challenges of measuring peace resides in the different narratives that underlie the very methodologies used to capture ‘peace’, including the selection of specific indicators. As much as global indicators aim to find a common pattern of variables in order to compare a large number of countries, they also tend to lose touch with the base, the ordinary people who are the subjects of peace. The Everyday Peace Indicators project was designed precisely with the intent to provide an alternative narrative regarding the state of peace in post-violent conflict societies. In the words of Mac Ginty and Firchow … Continue reading Measuring Peace: the Everyday Peace Indicators Project
In my previous post I offered a very brief reflection about the measurement of peace and conflict and its challenges. In this post, I focus specifically on the Global Peace Index (GPI). For those of you unfamiliar with it, the GPI was founded by an Australian entrepreneur and philanthropist, Steve Killelea, and has been produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) since 2007. The index was designed by a panel of experts from renowned universities and institutes worldwide who also update it every year, and is collated and calculated by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). The purpose of … Continue reading Measuring Peace: The Global Peace Index
Recently I have been interested in the discussion about the measurement of peace. This and the following posts will constitute an effort to summarise some preliminary thoughts on this topic and, later point to specific aspects that I will be exploring in my own research. For too long there has been a tendency in Peace Studies to focus on armed conflict/war as a means to understand peace. The general thinking is that ‘in order to understand peace you have to understand war’ (I recently heard this exact phrase from an Professor of International Relations in a conference). I agree that … Continue reading Measuring Peace and Conflict: Preliminary Thoughts