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Peaceland: Conflict Resolution and the Everyday Politics of International Intervention, Séverine Autesserre

Reviewed by Paul F. Diehl



Conventional analyses of peacekeeping have been very myopic, focusing on only one aspect of operations and often on only one goal, specifically, preventing the recurrence of violent conflict. Furthermore, concentration has been on macro-level factors (for example, disputant characteristics or major power interests) in studies by scholars or on military elements in studies by practitioners. The advent of complex peacebuilding missions would seem to have forced a change in those orientations, but this has been infrequently the case.

Séverine Autesserre broke this mold with her award-winning first book, The Trouble with the Congo, a compelling account of how local factors and actors affect peace operation outcomes. The present book continues this, this time focusing on the actors that plan and carry out missions, which the author labels “Peaceland,” a variation of the moniker “Aidland,” to signify the special values, narratives, habits, and practices that are associated with foreign per­sonnel carrying out duties in operations. Although the author acknowledges some good results from Peaceland activities, this is primarily a book about failures and problems. The central argument is that a significant portion, although not all, of the blame can be attributed to the mismatch between local needs and external actor orientatio

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