Seeing Like a Peacebuilder: An Ethnography of International Intervention

Séverine Autesserre
Nov 15, 2011 | 12:00pm
Lunchtime Lecture
101 Barnard Hall

Severine Autesserre

Why do international interventions so often fail to secure a sustainable peace? Why do others succeed? To answer these questions, we need to analyze how various cultures influence non-military peacebuilders on the ground, how the various actors and functions of peace interventions interact, and how shared understandings can promote peace intervention success. Based on qualitative research in conflict zones around the world, notably the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Sudan, Afghanistan, and Kosovo, Séverine Autesserre, of Barnard’s Department of Political Science, examines the various cultures that shape peacebuilding in the field. She will discuss how diplomats, peacekeepers, and non-governmental organizations’ staff members share a culture that shapes their understandings of war, peace, and intervention, and how this phenomenon significantly affects the likelihood of peacebuilding success or failure.

Séverine Autesserre is an Assistant Professor of Political Science, specializing in international relations and African studies, at Barnard College. Her research focuses on civil wars, peacebuilding and peacekeeping, humanitarian aid, and African politics, and her findings have appeared in numerous scholarly and policy journals. Her most recent research project culminated in a book entitled The Trouble with the Congo: Local Violence and the Failure of International Peacebuilding, which won the Chadwick Alger Prize, awarded by the International Studies Association to the best book on international organizations published in 2010. She has conducted extensive fieldwork in the eastern Congo since 2001, and was based there during the 2010–2011 academic year.

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