Building Communities of Peace: Arendtian Realism and Peacebuilding

Polity 58 (1):75-100 (2021)
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Recent studies of peacebuilding highlight the importance of attending to people’s local experiences of conflict and cooperation. This trend, however, raises the fundamental questions of how the local is and should be constituted and what the relationship is between institutions and individual actors of peace at the local level of politics. I turn to Hannah Arendt’s thoughts to address these issues. Arendt’s thinking provides a distinctive form of realism that calls for stable institutions but never depletes the spirit of resistance. Peacebuilding guided by this insight seeks to enable parties in conflict to voice their competing opinions by acting agonistically in public and to help them align their disruptive yet creative voices with a desire to establish and sustain common institutions. Thus, Arendt’s thinking not only offers a way to increase sensitivity to local differences but also to provide direction to the politics of resistance. In the end, it offers a balanced insight into peacebuilding and local agency beyond the contemporary liberal and critical approaches to peace.
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First archival date: 2020-10-23
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