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 13: The everyday politics of international intervention

Janosch Neil Kullenberg

Abstract

After decades of development aid, humanitarian relief and peacekeeping, the results of international interventions remain modest. While exogenous factors, such as chronically insufficient funds, vested political interests and enormous challenges in conflict-ridden countries, serve as standard explanations for the suboptimal outcomes, they remain largely outside of what international interveners can address and hope to improve. Therefore, a growing field of research has shifted its focus to interventions themselves. Building on such anthropological literature, this chapter explores the professional practices, everyday habits, social frames and artefacts of international intervention as a way to explain its shortcomings. It shows that organisations do not simply implement policy directives in a top-down manner but that practices and habits shape intervention from the bottom up. These everyday aspects enable, constitute and reproduce policies, institutions and discourses. However, their unreflective nature and interaction with interests and power render them extremely challenging to reform.

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