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Timely interventions: Temporality and peacebuilding

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 January 2020

Ryerson Christie*
School of Sociology, Politics, and International Studies, University of Bristol
Gilberto Algar-Faria
School of Sociology, Politics, and International Studies, University of Bristol
*Corresponding author. Email:


While there has been a long engagement with the impact of time on peacebuilding policies and practice, this engagement has to date focused predominately on issues of short- versus long-term initiatives, and of waning donor support for such initiatives. More recently, the critical peacebuilding turn has focused attention on the politics of the everyday as being essential to emancipatory endeavours enacted through localisation. Yet despite this, time itself has not been the subject of analysis, and the politics of time have not been integrated into the study of peacebuilding. This article, drawing both on historical institutionalist and on critical international studies analyses of temporality, provides a framework for analysing the impacts of time on the potential to achieve emancipatory peace. Drawing on extensive fieldwork in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Cambodia, this article asserts that a focus on Policy Time, Liberal Political Time, and Intergenerational Time highlights how peacebuilding initiatives are framed by disparate timescapes that limit the visibility of local chronopolitics, and that this in turn restricts local empowerment and resistances.

Research Article
Copyright © British International Studies Association 2020

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33 Ibid., p. 178.

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53 Interviews CA09 and CA10 (see Appendix for the list of interviews).

54 Interview BH03.

55 Interview CA03.

56 Interviews BH03, BH11, BH13, and BH15.

57 Interview BH11.

58 Interview BH13.

59 Interviews BH03, BH09, CA02, CA03, and CA05.

60 Interview BH13.

61 Interview CA09.

62 Interview CA05.

63 Interview BH24.

64 Interviews CA01, CA02, CA03, CA04, CA05, CA09, and CA10.

65 Interview CA04.

66 Interviews CA02 and CA04.

67 Interview CA04.

68 Interview CA10.

69 Interview CA09.

70 Interview CA01.

71 Interview CA10. Tuol Sleng is a genocide museum in Phnom Penh.

72 Interview BH02.

73 Interview BH09.

74 Interview BH11.

75 Interview BH18.

76 Interview BH19.

77 Interview BH27.

78 Interview BH11.

79 Interviews BH15 and BH24.

80 Interview BH24.

81 Interview BH10.

82 Interview BH16.

83 Interviews BH13, BH15, BH16, and BH25.

84 Interview BH11.

85 Interview BH12.

86 Interview BH14.

87 Interview BH13.

88 Interview BH10.

89 Interview BH16.

90 Interview BH16.

91 Interviews BH16 and BH20.

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95 Interviews CA05 and CA06.

96 According to Interviewees CA05 and CA06, younger generations in Cambodia felt that their life chances were being held back with limited hopes for significant improvements in those prospects. They blamed older generations for their condition, and simultaneously had little interest in understanding the trauma of those who lived through the horrors of the Khmer Rouge, or the subsequent civil war. They often saw the political debates, and the actions of NGOs, as being disconnected from their own needs.

97 Interview CA06.

98 Interview CA05.

99 Interview CA06.

100 Mac Ginty and Richmond, ‘The local turn in peace building’, p. 764.

101 Interview BH01.

102 Interview BH03.

103 Interview BH23.

104 Interview BH21.

105 Interview BH23.

106 Interview BH21.

107 Interview BH06.

108 Interview BH08.

109 Interview BH21.

110 Interview BH17.

111 Interview BH07.

112 Interview BH03.

113 Interview BH03.

114 Interview BH15.

115 Interview BH04.

116 Interview BH03.

117 Interview BH22.

118 Interview BH21.

119 Interview BH26.

120 Interview BH06.

121 Interview BH05.

122 Interview BH21.

123 Interview BH21.

124 Cockell, John G., ‘Conceptualising peacebuilding: Human security and sustainable peace’, in Pugh, Michael (ed.), Regeneration of War-Torn Societies (New York: St Martin's Press 2000), pp. 1534 (p. 23)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

125 Klinke, ‘Chronopolitics’, p. 675.

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