‘Peacebuilding during an age of crisis’
Annual Conference of the International Association of Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Manchester, 11-12 September 2017
Academic critiques of contemporary peacebuilding have shown a tendency in recent years to limit their analytical focus to the cultural, institutional, normative and political mismatches between the modus operandi of peacebuilding missions and their local contexts. Such perspectives have neglected the international system as the constitutive factor of peacebuilding interventions. The complex interaction of moribund international institutions, crippling development and security paradigms and the failure of regional and international security architectures have allowed national conflicts to fester and to inflict devastating consequences across entire regions.
Peacebuilding – where attempted – has been subject to a neoliberal make-over, which turned it into a service industry with diversified strata of subcontractors, corporate accounting but a lack of accountability, and funding channelled into international salaries rather than local conflict resolution and sustainable development. Interventionists’ lack of legitimacy and access have meanwhile manifested themselves in the rolling-out of technological fixes that are bound to move peacebuilding further away from conflict resolution and towards short-term humanitarianism. As a result, social cleavages, class issues and nationalism have been aggravated rather than mitigated through layers of intervention. Rights and prospects for gender as well as political emancipation, however, have been increasingly narrowed along with the deterioration of environmental standards. Liberal concepts of ‘civil society’ have all but collapsed.
Intersecting crises of this magnitude require a rethinking of the international institutional and ideological architecture that keeps dysfunctional peacebuilding interventions in place. Rather than detailing mismatches, this conferences encourages analysis of the international system and its constraining implications for the formation of local peace. It asks:
- Which structural factors have shaped contemporary peacebuilding and how do these factors interact?
- Is effective peacebuilding possible under conditions of austerity, neoliberalism and misguided ‘securitopias’? And if not, what will take its place?
- What does the recent shift towards isolationism and right-wing, xenophobic politics in the US, Britain and Continental Europe mean for peacebuilding?
- Which obstacles have prevented failed types of intervention from being replaced by more legitimate and effective types of peacebuilding?
Deadline for paper and panel proposals: 1 June 2017. Proposals should be 250 words maximum and sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Registration costs are £20 for paid academics and £10 for students and the unwaged. The registration fee is waived for current members of the IAPCS.