Handbook on Intervention and Statebuilding
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Handbook on Intervention and Statebuilding

Edited by Nicolas Lemay-Hébert

This innovative Handbook offers a new perspective on the cutting-edge conceptual advances that have shaped – and continue to shape – the field of intervention and statebuilding.
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Chapter 8: Intervening in a diverse world: revisiting the problem of difference in international statebuilding

Pol Bargués-Pedreny and Xavier Mathieu


Can the pessimism regarding the possibility to support statebuilding in a diverse world be reversed? In this chapter we argue that the current miasma of despair regarding international interventions is the result of three successive errors: silencing, problematizing and stigmatising cultural difference. After examining these three errors, we suggest three new starting points: approaching difference as multidimensional, refusing to essentialise difference, and focusing on the power relations that make difference exist in the first place. By putting ‘difference’ centre stage, our ambition is to reveal new analytical strategies that go beyond the impasse in which the field of statebuilding finds itself.

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