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Re-thinking the liberal peace: anti-colonial thought and post-war intervention in Mozambique

Sabaratnam, Meera (2011) Re-thinking the liberal peace: anti-colonial thought and post-war intervention in Mozambique. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Whilst much of the world has been formally decolonised, the ways we think about international relations often remains Eurocentric. This is evident in the critical debate on the liberal peace, which problematises the politics of postwar intervention. In this debate, it is argued that donors conduct invasive liberal social transformations in the name of conflict management and good governance. Although insightful, these critiques have tended to ignore the target society as a subject of history and politics in its own right. In response, the thesis turns to anti-colonial thought for strategies to reconstruct the target society as a subject of politics and source of critique. Drawing on the thinking of Césaire, Fanon and Cabral, these approaches offer philosophical re-orientations for how we understand the embodied subject, how we approach analysis, and how we think about political ethics. I use these insights to look at the liberal peace in Mozambique, one of intervention’s ‘success stories’. First, ‘Mozambique’ is itself re-constituted as a subject of history, in which the liberal peace is contextualised within historical forms of rule. Second, political subjecthood is reconstructed through thinking about ‘double consciousness’ on issues of governance and corruption. Third, I look at forms of conscious transactionality and alienation in the material realities of the liberal peace. Finally, I explore the historically ambivalent relationship of the peasantry with the state, which highlights alternative responses to neoliberal policy. The conclusions of the thesis suggest that the problem with the liberal peace is not so much that it is an alien form of rule which is culturally unsuitable but an alienating form of rule which is politically and economically exclusionary. The kind of critical ethical response that this demands is not based on the assumption of unbridgeable ‘difference’ between the West and its Others, but of the potential and actual connections between embodied political subjects who can listen to and hear each other.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Meera Sabaratnam
Library of Congress subject classification: D History General and Old World > DT Africa
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Supervisor: Hoffman, Mark

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