Centre for Development Studies

Reconceptualising conflict and peacebuilding: new ideas and actors in a changing world

September 2015 - January 2016

Principle Investigator: Oliver Walton

Research Team: Althea Rivas (University of Bath), Ryerson Christie (University of Bristol), John Heathershaw (University of Exeter), Elisa Wynne-Hughs (Cardiff Univeristy)

Funding Body: GW4

Total Value of Award: £1,919.20

Overview of the project

Peacebuilding is becoming increasingly central to global development policy, as demonstrated by its inclusion in the UN’s post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals. The character of armed conflict has changed considerably over recent years. Key trends include the growing role played by rising powers in the field of conflict management and resolution; a shift in western responses to conflict, involving the privileging community resilience over western responsibility; and changes in how conflicts are represented to western publics via the media. International development agencies are recognising this changing landscape but at the same time are operating at an increasing distance from local communities.

Mainstream approaches for responding to conflict have been heavily critiqued, leading to prominent calls for ‘hybrid’ approaches to peacebuilding seen to be more reflective of the concerns and interests of local actors. While this hybrid focus is welcome, the existing literature has continued to frame local and international approaches in opposition to each other and the general failure to satisfactorily conceptualise and theorise peace and peacebuilding from the bottom up remains a key gap. Inter-disciplinary analysis is required to better understand the realities of peace and conflict in these dynamic environments, and the ways in which international narratives and conceptualisations of conflict interact with local dynamics and power relations.

Intended outputs and impacts

The collaboration has five outcome objectives:

  1. Identify key areas for research development and comparative advantage of the GW4 institutions in the area of peacebuilding, conflict and development
  2. Support a joint funding application to the AHRC/ESRC Partnership for Conflict, Crime and Security Research under the Conflict Theme call. Participants will work towards an outline bid by 22 October, but use the later discussions to refine a full proposal in the later stages
  3. Explore possible South-West Doctoral Training Centre (SWDTC) collaboration
  4. Identify the administrative, financial and intellectual resources needed for further GW4-wide projects in this area
  5. Identify projects or publications, and possible funding bodies for sub-themes to take forward

For further information about this project, please contact:

Dr Oliver Walton: