With this book, Catherine Goetze makes an elegant, theoretically sophisticated, and empirically rich contribution to a well-established critical literature on peacebuilding. In the opening pages, Goetze observes that “[k]nowing of and about peace, doing peace, and building peace are practices of distinction in global politics” (Goetze 2017, 1). There is certainly a distinctive body of scholarship devoted to studying the practices of peace. Oliver Richmond, who has offered sustained and sophisticated engagement with this field of study (for overview and synthesis, see Richmond 2002, 2005, 2011), suggests that four generations of this scholarship have emerged: The first generation is derived from conflict management approaches that attempt to produce order without open violence by preserving the state and its relations. The second generation focuses on removing violence and injustice mainly for individuals. The third generation focuses on large scale, multidimensional approaches to creating peace. The fourth generation, as yet barely expressed in theory or practice, seeks ways of dealing with conflict that would not result in its replication in various forms (Richmond, 2005, 87; see also Richmond, 2010, 14–40, 26–33). Goetze's book finds affinity with the “fourth generation” peacebuilding literature. This body of work explores the gaps, silences, and challenges in liberal peacebuilding, employing as its guiding principle the idea that approaches to ending conflict “should aim at a just distribution of political, social and economic resources, operate in a non-exclusionary manner, and export institutions, structures and norms that are welcomed and required by recipients” (Richmond, 2002, 191; see also Duffield, 2001, 2007; Paris 2010; Campbell, Chandler, and Sabaratnam, 2011; Selby 2013; Richmond and MacGinty 2015). The aim of this important book is “to scrutinize the world order that makes peacebuilding in its current form possible” (Goetze 2017, 7), through a close examination of the actors that have “authority to define what peace is and how it should be built” (Goetze 2017, 2). The “social analysis” referenced in the title of the book is comprised of Goetze's exploration of who actually engages in peacebuilding-related activities in contemporary global politics, with what authority, and with what effects. Goetze's “thinking tools” (Leander cited in Goetze 2017, 16) are derived from Pierre Bourdieu's concepts of the field and the habitus. In the first part of the book, Goetze elaborates on the constitution of peacebuilding as a field—a space of professionalized activity, with defined, though fuzzy, boundaries—and on the characteristics of peacebuilding “experts” within that field, as well as those actors/activities that delineate the boundaries of the field: that which peacebuilding/peacebuilders are not. The second part is then devoted to appraising the habitus—or “the `modus operandi' of culture” (Goetze 2017, 28)—of peacebuilding, which allows for a skillful elaboration of peacebuilding “sensibilities” (Goetze 2017, 141–69) and the array of values and ethics that inform (and are reflexively informed by) peacebuilding activities and actors. Goetze's analysis is original, nuanced, and compelling. Her discussion of the research process itself is particularly refreshing; she describes her engagement with the field of peacebuilding as “a turbulent falling into place of various pieces” (Goetze 2017, 34). The empirical analysis presented in this book draws on a significant array of data, collected through various different methods and techniques, which gives depth and texture to the sociological account that Goetze provides of the field and habitus of peacebuilding. Goetze's careful historical analysis represents a significant strength of the book: her meticulous mapping of the field and its emergence is grounded in a detailed discussion of Congo in the 1960s and the development of peacebuilding “by default . . . initiated and undertaken by the UN and other international organizations because effective peacemaking was and is not in their capacity” (Goetze 2017, 44–45, emphasis in original). A similarly fine-grained examination of the emergence of peacebuilding “experts” (Goetze 2017, 44–66), showing the continuity between the “1960s international civil servant of peace and the contemporary peace entrepreneur” (Goetze 2017, 144), supports Goetze's argument that the UN has “established a powerful narrative of peacebuilding as legitimate and the only reasonable and rationally conceivable solution to conflicts” (Goetze 2017, 64), (re)produced by and simultaneously productive of authoritative “peace actors.” Goetze returns to the question of the “global power structure” of peacebuilding in the concluding chapter (Goetze 2017, 221–24), and it is here that the Whiteness of peacebuilding is really illuminated. Goetze acknowledges that peacebuilding can appear “uncomfortably close to colonial practices of the past,” noting that peacebuilding reproduces social relations and ways of living together in society that reproduce and normalize Western social history and experience in general and the organizational experience of civil administrations under neoliberal, entrepreneurial pressure in particular (Goetze 2017, 221). Goetze explores these “colonial practices” briefly in the final pages of the book, though she acknowledges that there are dimensions of these spatial hierarchies that, for reasons of space, she has been unable to address in detail. One of these is the imbrication of “the local” in “the international,” and vice versa, which we can observe as a characteristic of contemporary peacebuilding, which enables insights into the power of peacebuilding and its quality “as one of those spaces that have popped up a little bit everywhere in the world with the globalization of the past two decades” (Goetze 2017, 224). The delineation between local and international in the field of peacebuilding—which is of course a blurry, imperfect, and porous delineation—is part of how the resonance of peacebuilding-related activities with “colonial practices of the past” is (re)produced (see Shepherd 2015, 2017). There are hierarchies that structure and organize peacebuilding and which afford legitimacy and authority to particular kinds of actor and activities; these speak directly to the “global power structures” with which Goetze is concerned, and I would be fascinated to see the outcome if Goetze were to turn her sharp analytical mind directly to these spatial distinctions in future work. As a contribution to scholarship on peacebuilding, Goetze's book is emblematic of the new generation of literature in this field. The book makes an original theoretical contribution by bringing Bourdieu's concepts to bear on peacebuilding as a political practice, and its empirical depth ensures that its conclusions are both well supported and persuasive. Goetze's writing is engaging and accessible, and the volume is well structured; this is a significant contribution that should be widely read by those working on peacebuilding, international organizations, and the United Nations peace enterprise, broadly conceived. References Campbell Susanna , Chandler David , Sabaratnam Meera , eds. 2011 . A Liberal Peace? The Problems and Practices of Peacebuilding . London : Zed . Duffield Mark . 2001 . Global Governance and the New Wars: The Merging of Development and Security . London : Zed . Duffield Mark . 2007 . Development, Security and Unending War Governing the World of Peoples . Cambridge : Polity Press . Paris Roland . 2010 . “Saving Liberal Peace-building.” Review of International Studies 36 ( 2 ): 337 – 65 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Richmond Oliver . 2002 . Maintaining Order, Making Peace . Basingstoke, UK : Palgrave Macmillan . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Richmond Oliver . 2005 . The Transformation of Peace . Basingstoke, UK : Palgrave Macmillan . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Richmond Oliver . 2010 . “A Genealogy of Peace and Conflict Theory.” In Palgrave Advances in Peacebuilding , 14 – 40 . Basingstoke, UK : Palgrave Macmillan . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Richmond Oliver . 2011 . A Post-liberal Peace . London : Routledge . Richmond Oliver , Mac Ginty Roger . 2015 . Where Now for the Critique of the Liberal Peace? Cooperation and Conflict 50 ( 2 ): 171 – 89 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Selby , Jan. 2013 . “The Myth of Liberal Peace-Building.” Conflict, Security & Development 13 ( 1 ): 57 – 86 . CrossRef Search ADS Shepherd Laura J. 2015 . “Constructing Civil Society: Gender, Power, and Legitimacy in United Nations Peacebuilding Discourse.” European Journal of International Relations 21 ( 4 ): 887 – 910 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Shepherd Laura J. 2017 . Gender, UN Peacebuilding and the Politics of Space: Locating Legitimacy . Oxford : Oxford University Press . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS © The Author(s) (2018). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Studies Association. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
International Studies Review – Oxford University Press
Published: Feb 17, 2018
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