Rethinking Neo-Institutional Statebuilding: The Knowledge Paradox of International Intervention, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Rethinking Neo-Institutional Statebuilding

The Knowledge Paradox of International Intervention, 1st Edition

By Peter Finkenbusch


162 pages

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Hardback: 9781138224339
pub: 2017-05-15
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This book examines how neo-institutional statebuilding undercuts international policy agency. Post-Cold War interventions are marked by a peculiar paradox. From peace and statebuilding projects in war-shattered societies to World Bank development programmes in Africa, the scope of external regulation has grown consistently while international policymakers are finding it increasingly difficult to formulate a political project regarding the Global South. This book seeks to make sense of a contradictory situation in which international policymakers are doing more statebuilding than ever while knowing less about it. The study argues that the crisis of international agency is driven by the demise of reductionist liberal-universal knowledge. It critically explores neo-institutionalism as a dominant policy framework, bringing out how the failure of intervention paves the way for more comprehensive, context-sensitive and bottom-up engagement. As a precondition and side-effect of this expansive process, reductionist liberal-universal knowledge is deconstructed. Paradoxically, the more policymakers learn within a neo-institutional frame of reference, the less they positively know. Without this epistemic foundation, it becomes difficult to act purposively in the world and formulate instrumental policy. The study illustrates these conceptual insights with reference to the Merida Initiative, a U.S.-Mexican security agreement signed in 2007.

Rethinking Neo-Institutional Statebuilding will be of much interest to students of statebuilding, international intervention, peace and conflict studies, Latin American politics and IR in general.

Table of Contents


1. Expansive Intervention as Neo-Institutional Learning: Introducing the Knowledge Paradox

2. The Demise of Liberal-Universalism: Reality as Critique

3. Mexico´s New Sovereignty: ‘Shared Responsibility’ and Resilience in the Merida Initiative

4. The Neo-Institutional Search for Civil Society

5. Neo-Institutional Capacity Building: Disassembling International Policy


About the Author

Peter Finkenbusch is Postdoctoral Researcher at the Institute for Development and Peace (INEF), University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany, and has a PhD in Political Science from the Free University Berlin, Germany.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Intervention and Statebuilding

The series publishes monographs and edited collections analysing a wide range of policy interventions associated with statebuilding. It asks broader questions about the dynamics, purposes and goals of this interventionist framework and assesses the impact of externally-guided policy-making.

Advisory Board: Berit Bliesemann de Guevara, Aberystwyth University; Morten Boas, NUPI; Adam Branch, San Diego State University; David Chandler, University of Westminster; Adrian Gallagher, University of Leeds; Luke Glanville, Australian National University; Shahar Hameiri, Murdoch University; John Heathershaw, University of Exeter; Eric Heinze, University of Oklahoma; Robert Murray, University of Alberta; Lee P. M. Seymour, University of Amsterdam; Timea Spitka, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Latin America / Mexico
HISTORY / Military / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / International Security
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Intergovernmental Organizations