Respecting Complexity: Compound Friction and Unpredictability in Peacebuilding

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter builds on the idea of “friction” as a lens for understanding interactions between the global and the local by introducing the concept of compound friction as a tool for understanding the manner in which peacebuilding processes implemented in parallel within post-conflict settings interact in the imaginations of local audiences to create unpredictable and unexpected expectations and experiences. Building from empirical evidence exhibiting such compound friction in Sierra Leone, the article then responds to recent concern regarding the cooptation of the ‘local turn’ by international power and nests the concept of friction within complexity theory in order to illustrate the limitations on global actor’s ability to co-opt this new analytical tool. The conclusion argues that friction is an analytical tool for studying the effects of articulation between the global and the local that inherently resists cooptation by global power specifically because it cannot be designed into peacebuilding operations in the way that has recently been attempted with ‘hybridity’ and ‘ownership.’ Compound friction makes this clear by highlighting the contingent relationships between the various actors and ideas in operation within parallel peacebuilding projects.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPeacebuilding and Friction
Subtitle of host publicationGlobal and Local Encounters in Post Conflict Societies
EditorsAnnika Björkdahl, Kristine Höglund, Gearoid Millar, Jair Vanderlijn, Willemijn Verkoren
Place of PublicationAbingdon
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781315669823
ISBN (Print)978138937512
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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