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Acts of contention: local practices and dynamics of negotiated statebuilding in Bosnia and Herzegovina 1995-2010

Keränen, Outi (2013) Acts of contention: local practices and dynamics of negotiated statebuilding in Bosnia and Herzegovina 1995-2010. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The thesis is concerned with local practices that seek to contest international statebuilding measures. This line of inquiry stems from the need to generate knowledge on the ways in which international statebuilding is mediated and re-negotiated in local spaces. Rather than focusing on the much-analyzed hidden/everyday forms of resistance, the objective of the analysis is to understand the parallel, disruptive practices that directly challenge the international statebuilding project. These particular forms of contention are important as they explicitly engage with the coercive power of international statebuilding. Through the case study of post-Dayton Bosnia and Herzegovina, the thesis aims to generate an account of local contention and dynamics between domestic and international actors that is attentive to both material and non-material domains and practices. In doing so, the analysis identifies a range of contentious acts in the institutional, discursive and symbolic domains. While administrative practices slow down and block decision-making at the institutions of governance, local actors frequently deploy discursive strategies to destabilize and de-legitimize, or in some cases to co-opt, international statebuilding. They employ symbols and symbolic practices to contest the internationally-led cultural reconstruction efforts. It is argued that these disruptive techniques and the ensuing interactions translate into conflictual and symbiotic dynamic between internal and external actors. Although the interactions between internal and external actors frequently result in conflict, a closer look at the dynamic reveals a mutual dependency whereby the contentious activities of local actors and coercive statebuilding measures of the international officials maintain one another. The thesis makes a conceptual and empirical contribution to the analysis and understanding of the hybrid nature of post-conflict statebuilding. It begins developing the notion of contention and a set of mechanisms derived from contentious politics scholarship as a way to capture and trace local practices challenging internationally-led statebuilding measures. Empirically the study adds to our knowledge of local agency in societies emerging from conflicts.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2013 Outi Keränen
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Supervisor: Hoffman, Mark

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