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Civil society, human security, and the politics of peace-building in victor’s peace Sri Lanka (2009-2012)

Smith, Janel (2013) Civil society, human security, and the politics of peace-building in victor’s peace Sri Lanka (2009-2012). PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis aims to expand scholarship on civil society and peace-building through exploration of civil society’s experiences, perspectives, and practices in relation to the politics of peace-building and human (in)security in instances of victor’s peace, using post-war Sri Lanka as case study. It adopts Human Security as an analytical approach calling attention to insecurities operating on and through Sri Lankans but also the nature of power dynamics underlying these insecurities based on the subjective and political nature of ‘peace’ itself. The thesis contributes conceptually and empirically to knowledge of the operation of victor’s peace and its implications for civil society in peace-building. This thesis’s central contention is that acts of securitization and governmentality carried out by Sri Lanka’s central governmental elite within and enabled by the victor’s peace have constricted spaces for civil society to articulate alternatives or engage in critical dialogue within the political process fostered under the victor’s peace. This study, thus, questions romanticized notions of the potentiality of ‘local’ resistances to shift structural inequalities and power asymmetries in victor’s peace. At a disciplinary level, the thesis also deepens knowledge, first, on civil society as complex and contested sphere. It argues that to conceptualize civil society as homogenous or inherently altruistic risks drastically oversimplifying its highly diffuse nature and politics within the sector in which certain actors may benefit within the victor’s peace and engage in ‘peace’-building activities in order to both capitalise on those benefits and sustain the victor’s peace. Second, the thesis addresses the nexus between civil society and peace-building, and specifically the politics of peace-building, in the victor’s peace. In not being constrained by negotiated peace settlement it asserts that, as in Sri Lanka, instances of victor’s peace can quickly transition into repressive environments. Here it is unlikely that civil society, despite innovative methods of exercising agency, can significantly alter the trajectories of the ‘peace’, and further that those civil society actors that support the victor’s peace may seek to exploit the benefits they gain from it at the expense of the human security of others. Finally, the thesis asserts that, ultimately, Human Security’s utility may lie not as political agenda that validates external intervention based on a ‘responsibility’ to intervene, but as a conceptual framework for developing deeper understandings of the nature of (in)security and factors driving (in)security at multiple levels of analysis within different articulations or ‘types’ of peace.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2013 Janel Smith
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Supervisor: Hoffman, Mark

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