University of Essex
'No dogs barking at night', 'local festival going ahead', 'produce being brought to market', and 'talking to your neighbors': all responses that Pamina Firchow got when asking locals about what peace means to them and what they use as signs of peace. The volume argues that the local voice has got lost among the demand for quantifiable and 'objective' data guiding policy intervention in post-conflict societies. It outlines a methodology to identify indicators of peace that make sense in their local context, are not externally defined, and still allow for systemic comparisons over time and across communities. The basic idea is deceptively simple: focus groups identify key indicators of peace used locally, which then are used in surveys to measure the (lack of) peace and impact of external interventions. The so-called Everyday Peace Indicators aim to bridge the gap between ethnographic and quantitative research. The approach is applied to four communities in Uganda and Colombia, and it is demonstrated convincingly that 'people often look toward very localized, contextual indicators around them, in their communities and homes, in order to determine whether they are more or less at peace in their daily lives' (p. 109). There are obvious implications for policy intervention in post-conflict communities. Ideally, interventions should be guided by local priorities rather than externally designed and imposed measures. Yet, the volume presents little evidence in support of the critique of interventions in Uganda and Colombia. It thus remains somewhat undecided whether the Everyday Peace Indicators can generate systematic and comparable data and whether it is practically feasible to apply the methodology to evaluate policy interventions.