Skip to main content

Beyond liberal governance? Resilience as a field of transition

Abstract

According to governmentality studies, resilience, like any other neoliberal policy framework, reproduces a paternalising dichotomy between capable Northern policy elites and incapable Southern actors. In contrast to this popular governmentality reading, this article argues that resilience thinking is actually geared towards critiquing international policy expertise and the privileged knowledge position of international interveners. Rather than imposing particular policy options from the top down, resilience thinking actively seeks out vernacular, non-liberal forms of governing. However, the drive to critique domineering neoliberal policy initiatives does not usher in a post-liberal paradigm. Instead, this article demonstrates how resilience works as a field of transition on which the retreat from liberal forms of governing is mediated discursively without giving up entirely on the notion of normative, law-based security. These insights are drawn out with reference to crime-related US security interventions in the Americas.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Notes

  1. I would like to thank Reviewer 2 for this comment.

  2. Michel Foucault argued that the governed have to actively participate in the process of disciplinary rule (Foucault 1995).

  3. Importantly, Laura Zanotti has demonstrated that international governmentality has been regularly contested from below and that linear, causal conceptions of intervention do not adequately reflect the dynamics of international development and security practice (Zanotti 2019, 2011).

  4. In a recent co-authored article on the European Union, Joseph presents an analysis of resilience that goes beyond the governmentality critique (Joseph and Juncos 2019; see also Joseph 2018). The article demonstrates that the EU’s approach to resilience is influenced by a strong identity as a universal, liberal actor. This would seem to be further empirical evidence for my argument that resilience is unable to transcend fully liberal forms of governance.

  5. For example, critical community scholars have highlighted the need for international policy efforts to work from the bottom up (Shevellar et al. 2015).

References

  • Abrahamsen, Rita (2000) Disciplining Democracy. Development Discourse and Good Governance in Africa, London: Zed Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Acevedo, Rosa (2014) ‘Stepping Up the Merida Initiative: Community Policing as a Foundation for Building Resilient Communities and Reforming the Rule of Law in Mexico’, California Western International Law 44(2): 225–66.

    Google Scholar 

  • Anderson, Ben (2015) ‘What Kind of Thing Is Resilience?’, Politics 35(1): 60–66.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chandler, David (2014a) ‘Beyond Neoliberalism: Resilience, the New Art of Governing Complexity’, Resilience 2(1): 47–63.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chandler, David (2014b) Resilience: The Governance of Complexity, London: Routledge.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Davis, Diane (2012) Urban Resilience in Situations of Chronic Violence, Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology and USAID.

    Google Scholar 

  • Davis, Diane, and John Tirman (2012) A Toolkit for Urban Resilience in Situations of Chronic Violence, Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology and USAID.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dean, Mitchell (2007) Governmentality. Power and Rule in Modern Society, London: SAGE Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dobriansky, Paula (2004) Promoting a Culture of Lawfulness. Remarks at Georgetown University, Washington: U.S. Department of State. http://2001-2009.state.gov/g/rls/rm/2004/37196.htm. Accessed 21 February 2021.

  • Duffield, Mark (2007) Development, Security and Unending War. Governing the World of Peoples, Malden: Polity Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Edmunds, Timothy, and Ana Juncos (2019) ‘Constructing the Capable State: Contested Discourses and Practices in EU Capacity Building’, Cooperation and Conflict 55(1): 3–21.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Finkenbusch, Peter (2019) ʻOn the Road to Affirmation: Facilitating Urban Resilience in the Americasʼ, Global Society 33(1): 121‒36.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Foucault, Michel (1995) Discipline and Punish. The Birth of the Prison, New York: Vintage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Godson, Roy (2003) ‘Transnational Crime, Corruption, and Security’, in Michael Brown, ed., Grave New World: Security Challenges in the 21st Century, 259–78, Washington: Georgetown University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Godson, Roy (2000) ‘Guide to Developing a Culture of Lawfulness, Symposium on the Role of Civil Society in Countering Organized Crime: Global Implications of the Palermo, Sicily Renaissance’, Palermo: Organization of American States, Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission, http://www.cicad.oas.org/ES/Asambleas/CICAD36/03Godson.pdf. Accessed on 21 February 2021.

  • Grove, Kevin (2018) Resilience, New York: Routledge.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Ingram, Matthew (2014) ‘Community Resilience to Violence: Local Schools, Regional Economies, and Homicide in Mexico’s Municipalities’, in David Shirk, Duncan Wood and Eric Olson, eds, Building Resilient Communities in Mexico: Civic Responses to Crime and Violence, 25–62, Washington and San Diego: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and University of San Diego.

    Google Scholar 

  • Joseph, Jonathan (2018) Varieties of Resilience. Studies in Governmentality, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Joseph, Jonathan (2013) ‘Resilience as Embedded Neoliberalism: A Governmentality Approach’, Resilience 1(1): 38–52.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Joseph, Jonathan, and Ana Juncos (2019) ‘Resilience as an Emergent European Project? The EU’s Place in the Resilience Turn’, Journal of Common Market Studies 57(5): 995–1012.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • México Unido Contra la Delincuencia (2013) ‘Desarollo de Una Cultura de La Legalidad En México’ [Developing a Culture of Lawfulness in Mexico], Mexico City: México Unido Contra la Delincuencia, available at: http://www.culturadelalegalidad.org.mx/recursos/Contenidos/Artculosdeintersgeneral/documentos/Documento%20introductorio%20MUCD.pdf. Accessed 21 February 2021.

  • Murray Li, Tania (2007) The Will to Improve. Governmentality, Development, and the Practice of Politics, Durham: Duke University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Olson, Eric, David Shirk and Duncan Wood (2014) ‘Building Resilient Communities in Mexico: Civic Responses to Crime and Violence’, in David Shirk, Duncan Wood, and Eric Olson, eds, Building Resilient Communities in Mexico: Civic Responses to Crime and Violence, 1–22, Washington and San Diego: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and University of San Diego.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sabet, Daniel (2014) ‘Co-Production and Oversight: Citizens and Their Police’, in David Shirk, Duncan Wood and Eric Olson, eds, Building Resilient Communities in Mexico: Civic Responses to Crime and Violence, 245–62, Washington and San Diego: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and University of San Diego.

    Google Scholar 

  • Shevellar, Lynda, Peter Westoby and Meredith Connor (2015) ‘Flirting with Danger: Practice Dilemmas for Community Development in Disaster Recovery’, Community Development 46(1): 26–42.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • US Agency of International Development and Secretaría de Gobernación (2015a) Comités Comunitarios: Una Estrategia Para Fortalecer La Resiliencia Comunitaria [Community Committees: A Strategy to Strengthen Community Resilience], Mexico City: USAID and Secretaría de Gobernación.

    Google Scholar 

  • US Agency of International Development and Secretaría de Gobernación (2015b) Conceptos y Estrategias de Gestión Local [Concepts and Strategies of Local Adminstration], Mexico City: USAID and Secretaría de Gobernación.

    Google Scholar 

  • US Department of State (2010) Mexico – Merida Initiative Report, Washington: US Department of State.

    Google Scholar 

  • US Department of State (2008) Merida Initiative. Program Description Reference Document. Mexican Security Cooperation Plan, Washington: US Government Printing Office, http://mexicoinstitute.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/merida-initiative-part1.pdf. Accessed 21 February 2021.

  • Velazquez, Anthony (2011) ‘Mérida and Integrated Strategic Solutions’, Newport: Naval War College. http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a555425.pdf. Accessed 21 February 2021.

  • Walker, Brian, and David Salt (2012) Resilience Practice: Building Capacity to Absorb Disturbance and Maintain Function, Washington: Island Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Walker, Brian, and David Salt (2006) Resilience Thinking: Sustaining Ecosystems and People in a Changing World, Washington: Island Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Walker, Jeremy, and Melinda Cooper (2011) ‘Genealogies of Resilience: From Systems Ecology to the Political Economy of Crisis Adaptation’, Security Dialogue 42(2): 143–60.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Welsh, Marc (2014) ‘Resilience and Responsibility: Governing Uncertainty in a Complex World’, Geographical Journal 180(1): 15–26.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zanotti, Laura (2019) Ontological Entanglements, Agency and Ethics in International Relations, London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Zanotti, Laura (2011) Governing Disorder. UN Peace Operations, International Security and Democratization in the Post-Cold War Era, University Park: Penn State University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Zanotti, Laura (2005) ‘Governmentalizing the Post-Cold War International Regime: The UN Debate on Democratization and Good Governance’, Alternatives 30(4): 461–87.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Nicole Gallagher and David Chandler for reading earlier versions of this article and giving useful comments and critique.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Peter Finkenbusch.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Finkenbusch, P. Beyond liberal governance? Resilience as a field of transition. J Int Relat Dev 24, 681–695 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41268-021-00207-1

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/s41268-021-00207-1

Keywords

  • Governmentality
  • Latin America
  • Neo-liberalism
  • Resilience
  • Security governance