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

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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.



Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of International Relations and Development
Early online date15 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2018

Bibliographic note

© 2018 Springer Publishing. This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Journal of International Relations and Development. The final authenticated version is available online at: https://doi.org/10.1057/s41268-017-0129-6.


  • transitional justice, peacebuilding, power, governmentality, local

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