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The politics of knowledge: ethnicity, capacity and return in post-conflict reconstruction policy

Abstract
Abstract

A new casting of diasporas, exiles and returnees as potentially transformative agents in post-conflict polities is the topic of this article. ‘Return of Qualified Expatriates’ programmes have recently been launched by international agencies in a number of post-conflict countries in an attempt to promote better capacity-building within post-conflict states institutions. This article argues that the ostensible technical orientation of these programmes is misleading, and they have a political significance which is noted and contested locally. In political terms, they represent attempts to smuggle Western hierarchies of knowledge into post-conflict reconstruction efforts under the cover of ethnic solidarity, to the detriment of local participation and empowerment. The article argues further that this is always contested by interested parties locally, often by mobilising alternative capacities, labelled ‘authentic’, in opposition. As such, strategies that attempt to use ethnic ties to overcome this local contestation are placing a significant burden on ethnic categories that are slippery, malleable and contested in post-conflict contexts. These points are demonstrated with reference to the cases of Cambodia and Timor-Leste.

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1 See discussion in I would like to acknowledge the support of the Economic and Social Research Council in the UK, which funded the research upon which this article is based. A version of this article was first presented at the workshop on Southeast Asian Exiles: Crossing Cultural, Political and Religious Borders, at the Australian National University. Thanks are due to the participants of that workshop for their helpful comments, and to the reviewers at Review of International Studies. Clapham Christopher, Civil War is Not a Stupid Thing (London: Hurst, 2006), pp. 99103 .

2 See, for example, Roeder Philip and Rothchild's Donald characterisation of the problem in their, Sustainable Peace: Power and Democracy after Civil Wars, 15 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2005), p. 2 ; Roeder and Rothchild use concepts of institutional ‘transition’ and ‘consolidation’ drawn from the work of democratic transition theorists such as Larry Diamond, Philippe Schmitter and Adam Przeworski. See also the influential scholarly and policy work of Benjamin Reilly on institutional design, especially his Democracy in Divided Societies: Electoral Engineering for Conflict Management (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001) .

3 Evans Peter, Embedded Autonomy: States and Industrial Transformation (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995) .

4 See, for example, Boutros-Ghali Boutros, ‘Democracy: A Newly Recognised Imperative’, Global Governance, 1 (1995), p. 3 ; also the revival of the democratic peace thesis, following Doyle Michael, ‘Liberalism and World Politics’, American Political Science Review, 80 (1986), pp. 11511163 ; see, for example, Archibugi Daniele, ‘Immanuel Kant, Cosmopolitan Law and Peace’, European Journal of International Relations (1995), pp. 429456 ; Russett Bruce, Layne Christopher, Spiro David and Doyle Michael, ‘Correspondance: the Democratic Peace Thesis’, International Security, 19:4 (1995), pp. 164184 ; Hoffman Stanley, ‘The Crisis of Liberal Internationalism’, Foreign Policy, 98 (1995), pp. 159177 .

5 Kaplan Robert, ‘The Coming Anarchy: How Scarcity, Crime, Overpopulation, Tribalism and Disease are Rapidly Destroying the Social Fabric of Our Planet’, The Atlantic Monthly (February 1994) , available at: {http://www.theatlantic.com/} accessed on 17 September 2007.

6 Ellis Stephen, The Mask of Anarchy, The Destruction of Liberia and the Religious Dimension of an African Civil War (London: Hurst, 1999), pp. 1920 .

7 Kaldor Mary, New and Old Wars, Organised Violence in a Global Era (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006) .

8 See Anderson Benedict, ‘Long-Distance Nationalism’, New Left Review ; Tololyan Khachig, ‘Rethinking Diasporas: Stateless Power in the Transnational Moment’, Diaspora: a Journal of Transnational Studies, 5:1 (1996), pp. 336 ; Skrbis Zlatko, Long Distance Nationalism: Diasporas, Homelands and Identities (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1999) ; Collier Paul and Hoeffler Anke, Greed and Grievance in Civil War (Washington: World Bank, 2000) ; Shain Yossi, ‘The Role of Diasporas in Conflict Perpetuation or Resolution’, SAIS Review, 22:2 (2002), p. 116 ; Al-Ali Nadje and Khoser Khalid (eds), New Approaches to Migration: Transnational Communities and the Transformation of Home (London: Routledge, 2002) .

9 See Helman Gerald and Ratner Stephen, ‘Saving Failed States’, Foreign Policy, 89 (1992/1993), pp. 320 ; and the reassessment following 11 September 2001 as in Rotberg Robert, ‘Failed States in a World of Terror’, Foreign Affairs, 81:4 (2002), pp. 127140 .

10 World Bank, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, the Role of the World Bank (Washington DC: World Bank, 1998), p. 2 .

11 World Bank, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, p. 17 .

12 Bigombe Betty, Collier Paul and Sambanis Nicholas, ‘Policies for Building Post-Conflict Peace’, Journal of African Economies, 9:3 (2000), pp. 323348 .

13 The model for this is former Liberian president Charles Taylor, who supported rebels in Sierra Leone and fomented ethnic conflict in Liberia in the name of Greater Liberia, in the course of which he managed to enrich himself by several billion dollars through led an invasion of Sierra Leone in the name of Greater Liberia, in the course of which he managed to enrich himself by several billion dollars through trading arms for diamonds.

14 See Simon Chesterman's account of the change in UN attitudes towards ethnic division between its deployment to Kosovo in 1999 and its deployment to Afghanistan in 2002. Chesterman , You the People: the UN, Transitional Administration and State-Building (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) .

15 Devesh Kapur, ‘Remittances: The New Development Mantra?’, Paper presented at the G-24 Technical Group Meeting, Harvard University and Center for Global Development (2003).

16 See Meyer Jean-Baptiste, Charum Jorge, Bernal Dora, Gaillard Jacques, Granés José, Leon John, Montenegro Alvaro, Morales Alvaro, Murcia Carlos, Narvaez-Berthelemot NoraParrado Luz Stella, Schlemmer Bernard, ‘Turning Brain Drain into Brain Gain: The Colombia Experience of the Diaspora Option’, Science, Technology and Society, 2:2 (1997), pp. 285315 ; Hunger Uwe, ‘Indian IT Entrepreneurs in the US and in India: An Illustration of the “Brain Gain Hypothesis”’, Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis: Research and Practice, 6:2 (2004), pp. 99109 ; Saxenian Anna Lee, ‘From Brain Drain to Brain Circulation: Transnational Communities and Regional Upgrading in India and China’, Studies in Comparative International Development, 40:2 (2005), pp. 3561 .

17 Kuznetsov Yevgeny, Diaspora Networks and the International Migration of Skills: How Countries Can Draw on Their Talent Abroad (Washington DC: World Bank Institute: 2006) .

18 The Project is one of three key topics addressed by the Transformation of War Economies Project; for details see: {http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/twe/research/#diasporas} accessed on 26 August 2009.

19 Smith Hazel and Stares Paul, ‘Preface’, in Smith and Stares (eds), Diasporas in Conflict: Peace-Makers or Peace-Wreckers? (Tokyo: UN University Press, 2007), p. viii .

20 Bercovitch Jacob, ‘Diasporas and Conflict Resolution’, in Smith Hazel and Stares Paul (eds), Diasporas in Conflict: Peacemakers or Peace-wreckers? (Tokyo: UN University Press, 2007), p. 34 .

21 Bercovitch, ‘Diasporas and Conflict Resolution’, p. 35.

22 Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission, Capacity Development Secretariat, ‘Afghan Expatriate Program’, webpage, available at: {http://www.afghanexperts.gov.af/index.php?page_id=17} accessed on 20 August 2009.

23 See Robison Richard, ‘Strange Bedfellows: Political Alliances in the Making of Neo-Liberal Governance’, in Robison and Hout Wil (eds), Governance and the Depoliticisation of Development, (London: Routledge, 2009), pp. 1528 .

24 Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission Capacity Development Secretariat, Program Support Unit Monitoring and Evaluation Section, ‘Placement of Afghan Expatriate Professionals from EU Countries: Experts' Performance Evaluation Report’ (Kabul: IARCSC, 2008), p. 3.

25 ‘Evaluation Report’, p. 6.

26 Embassy of Afghanistan, Return of Qualified Expatriates Resource Guide (Washington: Embassy of Afghanistan, 2006), p. 17 , available at: {http://www.embassyofafghanistan.org/documents/ExpatPacket11–2-06.pdf} accessed on 23 February 2009.

27 Natali Denise, ‘Kurdish Interventions in the Iraq War’, in Smith and Stares (eds), Diasporas in Conflict, p. 198 .

28 Embassy of Afghanistan, Return of Qualified Expatriates Resource Guide, p. 16 .

29 Stephen Massing and Abdul Bari, ‘Capacity Development During Political Transitions: the Case of Afghanistan’, paper presented at the Seminar on Capacity Development, Bratislava (21–23 November 2005).

30 Eade Deborah, Capacity-Building: an Approach to People-Centred Development (Oxford: Oxfam, 1997), p. 24 .

31 Fukuyama Francis, State Building, Governance and World Order in the Twenty-First Century (London: Profile Books, 2004), p. 9 .

32 Hameiri Shahar, ‘Capacity and Its Fallacies: International State Building as State Transformation’, Millennium, 38:1 (2009), p. 57 .

33 Borgh Chris Van Der, ‘Donors in War-Torn Societies: El Salvador’, in Junne Gerd and Verkoren Willemijn (eds), Post-Conflict Development, Meeting New Challenges (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 2005), p. 249 .

34 Richmond Oliver, The Transformation of Peace (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2005), p. 104 . Richmond's work on post-conflict peacebuilding has echoes in the growing ‘governmentality’ literature on governance reforms in the context of development; see, for example, Gould Jeremy, ‘Poverty, Politics and States of Partnership’, in Gould (ed.), The New Conditionality: the Politics of Poverty Reduction Strategies, (London: Zed, 2005), pp. 116 ; and Li Tania Murray, The Will to Improve: Governmentality, Development and the Practice of Politics (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007) .

35 Pender John, ‘Country Ownership: the Evasion of Donor Responsibility’, in Bickerton Christopher et al. , (eds), Politics Without Sovereignty, a Critique of Contemporary International Relations (London: University College London Press, 2007), p. 123 .

36 Gould Jeremy and Ojanen Julia, ‘Tanzania: Merging in the Circle’, in Gould (ed.), The New Conditionality, the Politics of Poverty Reduction Strategies (London: Zed, 2005), p. 45 .

37 See Hughes Caroline and Pupavac Vanessa, ‘The Pathologization of Post-Conflict Societies: Cambodia and Kosovo Compared’, Third World Quarterly, 26:6 (2005), pp. 873889 .

38 Akashi , Yasushi , ‘To Build a New Country, the Task of the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia’, Harvard International Review (1992/1993), pp. 3435, 6869 .

39 Sergio Vieira de Mello, Statement. Lisbon Donors' Meeting on East Timor (22–23 June 2000), available at: {http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTTIMORLESTE/Resources/Opening+Sergio.pdf} accessed on 22 May 2008.

40 The situation in the two countries is compared in Hughes Caroline, Dependent Communities: Aid and Politics in Cambodia and East Timor (Ithaca: Cornell SEAP, 2009) ; on East Timor, see Surkhe Astrid, ‘Peacekeepers as Nation-Builders, Dilemmas of the UN in East Timor’, International Peacekeeping, 8:4 (2001), pp. 120 ; Chopra Jarat, ‘The UN's Kingdom of East Timor’, Survival, 42:3 (2000), pp. 2739 and ‘Building State Failure in East Timor’, Development and Change, 33:5 (2002), pp. 9791000 ; Chesterman Simon, ‘Peacekeeping in Transition: Self-Determination, Statebuilding and the UN’, International Peacekeeping, 9:1 (2002), pp. 4576 . On Cambodia see Hughes Caroline, The Political Economy of Cambodia's Transition, 1991–2001 (London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003) ; Andrew Robert Cock, ‘The Interaction between a Ruling Elite and an Externally Promoted Policy Reform Agenda: The Case of Forestry under the Second Kingdom of Cambodia 1993–2003’, PhD Dissertation, La Trobe University (2007); Richmond Oliver and Franks Jason, ‘Liberal Hubris? Virtual Peace in Cambodia’, Security Dialogue, 38:1 (2007), pp. 2748 ; Pouligny Beatrice, Peace Operations Seen from Below: UN Peacekeepers and Local People (London: Hurst and Co, 2006) .

41 Alford Peter, ‘Peacing East Timor Back Together: Rebuilding East Timor is Proving a Thankless Task’, The Australian (27 June 2000) , reproduced online at: {www.etan.org/et2000b/june/25–30/27theaus.htm}.

42 Strohmeyer Hansjoerg, ‘Building a New Judiciary for East Timor: Challenges of a Fledgeling Nation’, Criminal Law Forum, 11 (2000), p. 262 .

43 Strohmeyer, ‘Building a New Judiciary’, p. 262.

44 SRSG Sergio Vieira de Mello's press briefing on Sat 15 July 2000 at the swearing-in of East Timor's Transitional Cabinet, available at: {http://www.etan.org/et2000c/july/16–22/15srsg.htm}.

45 Lawyer (name withheld for reasons of confidentiality), interview with the author, Dili (28 May 2005).

46 Mr Benevenides Barros, president, Bar Association of Timor-Leste, interview with the author, Dili (15 April 2005).

47 Lawyer (name withheld for reasons of confidentiality), interview with the author, Dili (27 May 2005).

48 Lawyer (name withheld for reasons of confidentiality), interview with the author, Dili (16 June 2005).

49 Cambodian Rehabilitation and Development Board of the Cambodian Development Council. Cambodia Aid Effectiveness Report 2007 (Phnom Penh: Royal Government of Cambodia, 2007), p. 22 .

50 Boutros Boutros-Ghali, ‘Report of the Secretary-General on Cambodia Containing his Proposed Implementation Plan for UNTAC including Adminstrative and Financial Aspects’, UN Document 2/23613, 19 February 1992, §9.

51 Un Kheang, Democratization without Consolidation: The Case of Cambodia, 1993–2004, PhD thesis, Northern Illinois University (2004), p. 272 .

52 World Bank and Centre for Advanced Study, Linking Citizens and the State: an Assessment of Civil Society Contributions to Good Governance in Cambodia (Phnom Penh: World Bank, 2008), p. 2 .

53 Extract from a speech made by Hun Sen at a medical training school, Phnom Penh (27 April 1996), quoted in ‘Hun Sen: Live and Die with the People’, Phnom Penh Post (3–16 May 1996), p. 3 .

54 Craig David and Kimchoeun Pak, ‘Party Financing of Local Investment Projects: Elite and Mass Patronage’, in Hughes Caroline and Un Kheang, Cambodia's Economic Transformation, as yet unpublished manuscript (2009), pp. 244271 .

* I would like to acknowledge the support of the Economic and Social Research Council in the UK, which funded the research upon which this article is based. A version of this article was first presented at the workshop on Southeast Asian Exiles: Crossing Cultural, Political and Religious Borders, at the Australian National University. Thanks are due to the participants of that workshop for their helpful comments, and to the reviewers at Review of International Studies.

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