The liberal peace and post-conflict peacebuilding in Africa : Sierra Leone
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This thesis critiques liberal peacebuilding in Africa, with a particular focus on Sierra Leone. In particular, it examines the interface between the liberal peace and the “local”, the forms of agency that various local actors are expressing in response to the liberal peace and the hybrid forms of peace that are emerging in Sierra Leone. The thesis is built from an emerging critical literature that has argued for the need to shift from merely criticising liberal peacebuilding to examining local and contextual responses to it. Such contextualisation is crucial mainly because it helps us to develop a better understanding of the complex dynamics on the ground. The aim of this thesis is not to provide a new theory but to attempt to use the emerging insights from the critical scholarship through adopting the concept of hybridity in order to gain an understanding of the forms of peace that are emerging in post-conflict zones in Africa. This has not been comprehensively addressed in the context of post-conflict societies in Africa. Yet, much contemporary peace support operations are taking place in these societies that are characterised by multiple sources of legitimacy, authority and sovereignty. The thesis shows that in Sierra Leone local actors – from state elites to chiefs to civil society to ordinary people on the “margins of the state” – are not passive recipients of the liberal peace. It sheds new light on how hybridity can be created “from below” as citizens do not engage in outright resistance, but express various forms of agency including partial acceptance and internalisation of some elements of the liberal peace that they find useful to them; and use them to make demands for reforms against state elites who they do not trust and often criticise for their pre-occupation with political survival and consolidation of power. Further, it notes that in Sierra Leone a “post-liberal peace” that is locally-oriented might emerge on the “margins of the state” where culture, custom and tradition are predominant, and where neo-traditional civil society organisations act as vehicles for both the liberal peace and customary peacebuilding while allowing locals to lead the peacebuilding process. In Sierra Leone, there are also peace processes that are based on custom that are operating in parallel to the liberal peace, particularly in remote parts of the country.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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