‘Everyday’ practices contribute to peacebuilding in Africa, according to studies published by the British Academy
15 Mar 2022
A new special edition of the open access Journal of the British Academy presents insights into post-conflict peacebuilding in Africa from a new generation of researchers focusing on ‘everyday’ peace and the peacebuilding practices taking place at a local level.
The special edition features writing on ‘everyday peacebuilding’ by five early-career researchers, drawing on research into peacebuilding practices in Kenya, South Sudan, Somaliland and Ghana.
A focus on local perspectives in diverse contexts reveals more diverse forms of peacebuilding, encompassing mine action, media practice during elections, gender and religious rituals and ceremonies.
The edition includes several critical insights:
- Dr Siham Rayale emphasises women’s agency in everyday peace and security, examining the power of women’s narratives to defend their own unique experiences and contest the prevailing political history of conflict and violence in Somaliland.
- Dr Isaac Dery, Dr Cuthbert Baataar K.M and Dr Anisur Rahman Khan show that Western-centric conceptualisations of masculinities fail to account for the tensions, ambiguities, resistances and contestations of African masculinities and that men can contribute to peacebuilding by reconstituting discourses and practices of male status within the family and embracing peaceful and nonviolent masculinities.
- Dr Winnie Bedigen investigates the significance of religion in peacebuilding efforts in South Sudan, finding that – despite falling outside the New Sudan Council of Churches’ peacebuilding processes – indigenous everyday rituals dominate many aspects of everyday community practice and are central to understanding how to deliver sustainable peace.
- Dr Zacharia Chiliswa finds that how people engage in or communicate peacebuilding efforts has consequences for everyday peacebuilding practices. In ethnically polarised contexts, online and other forms of media used for peacebuilding activism may not engage targeted groups in the intended ways.
- Dr Sarah Njeri finds that mine action (clearing landmines and unexploded ordinances left during the war) has the potential to support wider peacebuilding processes in Somaliland by changing local actors’ perceptions of peace and peacebuilding, particularly considering evidence of clan elders’ local status as legitimate peacebuilding authorities.
The volume was edited by Dr Sarah Njeri, Research Fellow at Humanitarian Policy Group, ODI and a Research Associate of the African Leadership Centre, King’s College London. Dr Njeri said:
“Thirty years on from one of the seminal works on peacebuilding, An Agenda for Peace by the then UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, research has predominantly still focused only on political and economic initiatives by external NGOs setting out a state-building agenda. The planning and implementation of national peacebuilding strategies overlooks the agency that individuals can have within peacebuilding at the local level.
“Generally, the emerging research in this field has also marginalised African ECRs' voices, especially in global research publications, therefore limiting the extent to which they can influence policy and practise. African researchers – including the early-career researchers whose studies are showcased in this special edition of the Journal of the British Academy – are helping to remedy this.”