Policy debates on conflict research, which are mostly directly used to develop practices of soft intervention (including conflict resolution, peacebuilding and statebuilding), emanate from common epistemic and ontological frameworks. Most have been produced and perpetuated by key institutions in the global North through their encounter with historical direct and structural violence, both North and South. Power has followed Enlightenment knowledge, along with its various biases and exclusions. Its progressive normative, political, economic and social assumptions about a ‘good society’ and an ‘international community’ have been fed through social science into the building of international institutions, IFIs and the donor system. Using a method called ethnographic biography (in which biography is broadly defined to include the bibliography produced by the subject, as well as interviews and discussions), this article illustrates how peace thinking is mutually constructed as both positive and hybrid, confirming earlier critical work. However, the research methods deployed to engage with the contextual production of knowledge by local scholar-practitioners are sorely underdeveloped. This is illustrated through an analysis of the work of ‘local’ conflict scholars on their own peacebuilding and statebuilding processes in Cyprus, Kosovo and Timor Leste.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Oliver Richmond is a research professor in IR, Peace and Conflict Studies in the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute and the School of Department of Politics, at the University of Manchester, UK. He is also an international professor, College of International Studies, Kyung Hee University, Korea and a Visiting Professor at the University of Tromso. His recent publications include Peace Formation and Political Order (Oxford University Press, 2016) and Failed Statebuilding (Yale University Press, 2014). He is an editor of the Palgrave book series, Rethinking Peace and Conflict Studies, and co-editor of the Journal, Peacebuilding. Thanks to my three subject-scholars, and apologies for any misrepresentations I may have made. Thanks also to several anonymous reviewers who helped me bring more clarity to my argument and approach. An earlier version of this paper was presented in a Presidential Panel at ISA, New Orleans, 23 February, 2015.
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