1st Edition

An Ethnographic Approach to Peacebuilding Understanding Local Experiences in Transitional States

By Gearoid Millar Copyright 2014
    198 Pages
    by Routledge

    208 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book aims to outline and promote an ethnographic approach to evaluating international peacebuilding interventions in transitional states.

    While the evaluation of peacebuilding and transitional justice efforts has been a growing concern in recent years, too often evaluations assess projects based on locally irrelevant measures, reinforce the status quo distribution of power in transitional situations, and uncritically accept the implicit conceptions of the funders, planners, and administrators of such projects. This book argues that evaluating the effects of peacebuilding interventions demands an understanding of the local and culturally variable context of intervention.

    Throughout the book, the author draws on real world examples from extensive fieldwork in Sierra Leone to argue that local experiences should be considered the primary measure of a peacebuilding project’s success. An ethnographic approach recognizes diversity in conceptions of peace, justice, development and reconciliation and takes local approaches and local critiques of the international agenda seriously. It can help to empower local actors, hold the international peacebuilding industry accountable to its supposed beneficiaries, and challenge the Western centric ideas of what peace entails and how peacebuilding is achieved.

    This book will be of much interest to students and scholars of peacebuilding, peace and conflict studies, transitional justice, African politics, ethnography, International Relations and security studies, as well as practitioners working in the field.

    Introduction  Part 1: Introduction to the Ethnographic Approach  1. Peacebuilding, Empowerment, and Evaluation  2. Historical, Political, and Social Context  Part 2: The Four Pillars of the Ethnographic Approach  3. Peacebuilding as Experiential  4. Ethnographic Preparation  5. Local Engagement  6. Appraisal of One’s Own Implicit Assumptions  Part 3: The Details and Challenges of Incorporating the Ethnographic Approach  7. Challenges to the Ethnographic Approach  8. The Distinctive Strengths of the Ethnographic Approach  9. Conclusion


    Gearoid Millar is Lecturer in Sociology at the Institute for Conflict, Transition, and Peace Research (ICTPR) at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.

    "Millar’s well thought through and structured study fulfils the important task of translating many previous theoretical insights and critiques into potential practices." Oliver P. Richmond, University of Manchester

    "Millar’s constructive criticism of quantitative approaches to peacebuilding design and assessment, complemented by his offer of practical tools, allows critical peacebuilding studies to transform into operative knowledge. This is what makes ・An ethnographic approach to peacebuilding・ mandatory reading for anyone ‒ scholar or practitioner ‒ involved or interested, at any rate, in peacebuilding fieldwork." - Stefano Ruzza, University of Turin, ERIS – European Review of International Studies