The myopic Foucauldian gaze: discourse, knowledge and the authoritarian peace
Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding
Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Reason for embargo
The discourse of liberal peacebuilding has often been characterized by critics as a hegemonic discourse, in which power and knowledge are co-constitutive. Influenced by the work of Michel Foucault, an important strand of the literature has demonstrated how epistemic communities have produced knowledge that supports this discourse, while marginalizing other, contrary voices. A ‘local turn’ has sought to uncover what Foucault termed ‘subjugated knowledges’, peripheral voices that were seen as potentially contributing to a more emancipatory peace. This article, in contrast, argues that the explicit and implicit Foucauldian framing of discourse and knowledge is no longer adequate to conceptualize the contested nature of peace and conflict in a rapidly changing international system. In a period of significant geopolitical shifts away from a Western-centric international order, post-Foucauldian discourse theories offer a more productive analytical perspective that makes visible the multiple, competing discourses that attempt to achieve closure in defining meanings of peace and conflict. A theoretical framework that emphasizes discursive contestation rather than unitary domination allows serious consideration of alternative conceptualizations of peacemaking. In particular, theoretical frameworks that highlight contestation make visible an authoritarian, illiberal approach to managing conflict that challenges both liberal and emancipatory conceptualizations of peace and conflict, but is occluded in the current debate over post-liberal peace.
The author would particularly like to thank the participants in a seminar in Uppsala on ‘Knowledge Production in Conflict and Intervention’ in June 2014 for their comments on an earlier paper. He is also grateful to Berit Bliesemann de Guevara and Roland Kostić for their invitation to participate in that seminar and their work in compiling this special issue. Thanks are also due to two anonymous reviewers and the editors at JISB for their helpful comments and feedback.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Taylor & Francis (Routledge) via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 11, Iss. 1, pp. 21 - 41