Seeing like the international community: how peacebuilding failed (and survived) in Tajikistan
University of Exeter
Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding
Taylor & Francis
The international community claims transformative power over post-conflict spaces via the concept of peacebuilding. International actors discursively make space for themselves in settings such as the Central Asian state of Tajikistan which endured a civil war during the 1990s and has only seen an end to widespread political violence in recent years. With the work of James C. Scott, this paper challenges the notion that post-conflict spaces are merely the objects of international intervention. It reveals how, even in cases of apparent stability such as that of Tajikistan, international actors fail to achieve their ostensible goals for that place yet make space for themselves in that place. International peacebuilders may provide essential resources for the re-emergence of local forms of order yet these symbolic and material resources are inevitably re-interpreted and re-appropriated by local actors to serve purposes which may be the opposite of their aims. However, despite this ‘failure’ of peacebuilding it nevertheless survives as a discursive construction through highly subjective processes of monitoring and evaluation. So maintained, peacebuilding is a constitutive element of world order where the necessity of intervention for humanitarian, democratic and statebuilding ends goes unchallenged. This raises the question of what or where – in spatial terms – is the locus of international intervention: the local recipients of peacebuilding programmes (who are the ostensible targets) or ‘the International Community’ itself (whose space is re-inscribed as that of an imperfect but necessary regulator of world order).
Post-print version. 18 month embargo by the publisher. Article will be released April 2010.