An Ethnographic Approach to Peacebuilding: Understanding Local Experiences in Transitional States

Research output: Book/ReportBook

63 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this book is to outline and illustrate an ethnographic approach to evaluating international peacebuilding interventions in transitional states.

The various projects and processes of intervention in transitional states are thought to provide particular experiences to those who have survived war or autocratic government; experiences of justice, reconciliation, development, democracy, empowerment, etc. In turn, these experiences are theorised to contribute to people’s acceptance of a new order and rejection of violence. However, just as love, honor, or respect differ between cultures, so do conceptions of justice, development, reconciliation, and empowerment. As a result, this book argues that evaluating the effects of peacebuilding interventions demands an understanding of the local and culturally variable context of intervention. The approach described here can be used as a supplement to existing evaluation approaches, which are concerned with either evaluating the conflict sensitivity of interventions or to quantitative evaluations of project outputs, such as the trial year.

Throughout the book, the various chapters focus on exhibiting the strength of the ethnographic approach through real world examples from the author's extensive fieldwork in Sierra Leone. These examples illustrate the substantive nature of the data that can be gained from talking directly to local people in settings of transition – the supposed ‘beneficiaries’ – and showing how this data can provide insight into some of the most pressing debates in peacebuilding, from issues of local ownership and grassroots engagement to debates between the value of the liberal versus the hybrid peace models.

This book will be of much interest to students of peacebuilding, peace and conflict studies, African politics, ethnography, International Relations and security studies.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationAbingdon
Number of pages208
ISBN (Electronic)9780203701270
ISBN (Print)9780415870351
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2014

Publication series

NameStudies in conflict, development and peacebuilding


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