Chapter 4: Post-conflict reconstruction, the local, and the Indigenous
Recent attempts to rethink post-conflict reconstruction away from the liberal peace have led to scholars calling for engaging with local realities in ways which challenge the established ontological and epistemological basis of statebuilding theory and practice to date. Calls for opening up the theorisation of post-conflict reconstruction to multiple and different ontologies, in particular, have given way to a relational turn in theory which has recently brought attention to the governance systems, customs, beliefs and framings of Indigenous communities. Where Indigenous knowledge is seen as crucial in operationalising a deeper engagement with marginalised communities which are both the subject of post-conflict reconstruction and the originators of useful alternative forms of conflict resolution embedded in customary knowledge, the chapter suggests that engaging with Indigenous knowledge may also present challenges. The chapter traces these limitations, which range from the inability to reconcile fundamentally different worldviews, to the side-tracking of Indigenous communities’ agendas and needs in favour of western knowledges, to the manipulation and misappropriation of Indigenous customs. Whilst the chapter argues that an indigenous turn in post-conflict reconstruction can be problematic if it takes place without altering the basic normative framing of peace-thinking, the chapter ends with sketching the conditions under which Indigenous knowledge can help critical theories ‘short-circuit’ the assumptions that have underpinned decades of engagement with post-conflict territories.
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