Beyond Silence, Obstacle and Stigma: Revisiting the ‘Problem’ of Difference in Peacebuilding

Bargués-Pedreny, Pol and Mathieu, Xavier (2018). Beyond Silence, Obstacle and Stigma: Revisiting the ‘Problem’ of Difference in Peacebuilding. Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, 12 (3), pp. 283-299.


Whereas practitioners and mainstream approaches to intervention are concerned about the inability to manage difference in a way that is conducive to peace, critical scholars worry about the inability to write difference without essentializing ‘it’ or reproducing and legitimizing power structures. Can we revert the pessimism regarding the possibility to engage with others sensitively and build peace in a diverse world? In this article, we argue that the current miasma of despair regarding international interventions is the result of three successive errors in the process of seeking to build a peace sensitive to the other: silencing, problematizing and stigmatizing difference. After examining these three errors, we outline three analytical starting points that offer a better understanding of difference: multidimensionality, anti-essentialism, and a focus on power struggles. This discussion opens the Special Issue and hopes to stimulate further conversations on the role of difference in peacebuilding by focusing on its conditions of emergence.

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Divisions: Languages & Social Sciences
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding on 1 October 2018, available online at:
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Published Date: 2018-10-01
Authors: Bargués-Pedreny, Pol
Mathieu, Xavier



Version: Accepted Version

Access Restriction: Restricted to Repository staff only until 1 April 2020.

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