Hidden politics of power and governmentality in transitional justice and peacebuilding: The problem of ‘bringing the local back in’

Abstract

This paper examines ‘the local’ in peacebuilding by examining how ‘local’ transitional justice projects can become spaces of power inequalities. The paper argues that focusing on how ‘the local’ contests or interacts with ‘the international’ in peacebuilding and post-conflict contexts obscures contestations and power relations amongst different local actors, and how inequalities and power asymmetries can be entrenched and reproduced through internationally funded local projects. The paper argues that externally funded projects aimed at emancipating ‘locals’ entrench inequalities and create local elites that become complicit in governing the conduct and participation of other less empowered ‘locals’. The paper thus proposes that specific local actors—often those in charge of externally funded peacebuilding projects—should also be conceptualised as governing agents: able to discipline and regulate other local actors’ voices and their agency, and thus (re)construct ideas about what ‘the local’ is, or is not.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    ‘About RECOM’, available at http://recom.link/sta-je-rekom/ [last accessed on 20 October, 2017].

  2. 2.

    ‘A Brief History of the RECOM Process’, available at http://www.recom.link/about-us-2/a-brief-history-of-the-recom-process/ [last accessed on 7 April, 2017].

  3. 3.

    ‘A Brief History of the RECOM Process’, available at http://www.recom.link/about-us-2/a-brief-history-of-the-recom-process/ [last accessed on 7 April, 2017].

  4. 4.

    ‘The Tenth Forum for Transitional Justice in post-Yugoslav states’, available at http://www.recom.link/sr/x-medunarodni-forum-za-tranzicionu-pravdu-u-post-jugoslovenskim-zemljama-3/ [last accessed on 21 April, 2017].

  5. 5.

    ‘Local consultation with families of victims, missing persons’ associations, war veterans, war invalids, associations of families of fallen soldiers’, 28 January, 2010, Kosovo, available at http://recom.link/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/Transkripti.pdf, p. 28 [last accessed on 21 December, 2017].

  6. 6.

    8th Forum for Transitional Justice, available at http://www.recom.link/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Program.pdf [last accessed on 12 April, 2017].

  7. 7.

    10th Forum for Transitional Justice, http://recom.link/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Transkript.pdf.

  8. 8.

    Tenth Forum for Transitional Justice, http://recom.link/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Transkript.pdf. Last Accessed 12 January 2017.

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Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Catherine Baker, Maria O’Reilly, Laura Martin, Henry Redwood, Pol Bargues Pedreny, Louis Monroy Santander and the two anonymous reviewers for their comments and suggestions on earlier drafts. A version of this paper was presented at the International Studies Association Conference in New Orleans, 2015. In November 2014, I was invited by the RECOM coalition to attend the 10th Forum on Transitional Justice. I am grateful to the hosts for their generosity. Although I refer to that event in this paper, the information I use is publicly available from http://recom.link.

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Obradovic-Wochnik, J. Hidden politics of power and governmentality in transitional justice and peacebuilding: The problem of ‘bringing the local back in’. J Int Relat Dev 23, 117–138 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41268-017-0129-6

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Keywords

  • Governmentality
  • Local
  • Peacebuilding
  • Power
  • Transitional justice