Local, place-based, and community-driven approaches to peacebuilding

The project, Local, place-based, and community-driven approaches to peacebuilding, is supported under the British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant programme with funding of £9,803. Globally, post-conflict and transitional societies statistically relapse into violence and conflict within ten years (UNESCO, 2014) due to the state of fragility and crises conflicts create in their borders – the vicious cycle they are struggling to break away from. 

Peacebuilding activities led by multilateral/bilateral institutions and international non-profit organisations are utilised with the hope that peace can be reached and sustained in such contexts. Since the 1990s, international peacebuilding organisations have been springing up like mushrooms in order to meet the needs of the many societies that are recovering from or are ridden by violent and armed conflicts. During this period, peacebuilding has transformed from a locally defined and -owned participatory grassroots project into a top-down and one-size-fits-all superficial intervention by international actors (Upadhyaya and Kolås, 2018). This approach has shown to sideline local knowledge systems, experiences, and expertise, and to neglect the plurality and diversity of contexts peacebuilding actors work in. Insensitivity to local contexts and cultures has made peacebuilding ineffective and led to the loss of trust in and legitimacy of international actors. One major result of this approach is that in many contexts, violence may be suppressed, but peace that resolves and redresses unjust structural factors that sustain and reinforce a culture of violence is nowhere to be found.

The objective of the project is to draw on diverse conflict and post-conflict contexts to develop a local, place-based, community-driven model of peacebuilding through education and learning that can be adaptive to different contexts. 

Using digital methods such as arts-based webinars with indigenous peacebuilders, consultations and mapping on Padlet, online survey, and online focus groups, the project has the following aims:

  1. Understand what ‘peace’ and ‘conflict’ mean in participants’ contexts;
  2. Explore participants’ experience and insights into challenges and opportunities of working on peacebuilding and reconciliation in complex/fragile environments;
  3. Collaboratively develop an understanding of what peacebuilding and its components and approaches should and can be in order to be effective and responsive to local needs, relationships, knowledge, values;
  4. Collaboratively develop an understanding of what role education and learning should play in peacebuilding processes; and

Facilitate a conversation on effective and respectful ways and procedures that can help to reach out and engage the marginalised and vulnerable populations in peacebuilding.

PI: Dr Yulia Nesterova

Co-I: Dr Eun-Ji Amy Kim (Griffith University, Australia)

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