Revision or Revolution? At the Crossroads of Peacebuilding Theory

Book review

Lidén, Kristoffer (2010) Review of Revision or Revolution? At the Crossroads of Peacebuilding Theory, in NOREF Book Review 1–3.

Read the book review here

'The Dilemmas of Statebuilding: Confronting the Contradictions of Postwar Peace Operations'. Edited by Roland Paris and Timothy D. Sisk. New York, Routledge, 2009, 366 pages.

'Whose Peace? Critical Perspectives on the Political Economy of Peacebuilding'. Edited by Michael Pugh, Neil Cooper and Mandy Turner. Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2008, 408 pages.

These two books balance on the brink of a paradigm shift in peacebuilding theory. While The Dilemmas of Statebuilding keeps an even keel, Whose Peace? leans awe-inspiringly forward. Weighty contributions in The Dilemmas leave the impression that it is the normative expectations to the outcome of peacebuilding operations – human rights, democracy and development – that ought to be altered.

In contrast, Whose Peace? seeks to adapt the theoretical premises of peacebuilding to these emancipatory objectives. This distances the latter book from the ‘operational realities’ of contemporary peacebuilding, but challenges problematic assumptions that currently underpin the very conception of these realities.

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