International Relations (IR) and related social science disciplines focusing on peace and conflict studies have enabled a bureaucratic understanding of peacebuilding and a liberal form of peace. This has extended into a neoliberal type of statebuilding. There is now an impressive international architecture for peace, but its engagement with its subjects in everyday contexts has been less impressive. An earlier group of conflict researchers, grouped around John Burton and later A.J.R. Groom, have long argued that this is partly because IR has concentrated on elite power, problem-solving methodology and positivist epistemologies. It has failed to understand the dynamics, agency and hybridity of human society and institutions when it comes to peace, or that inequality is conflict inducing. Rescuing peacebuilding from neoliberal epistemological frameworks requires an anthropological and ethnographic sensitivity.
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