The Trouble with the Congo: Local Violence and the Failure of International Peacebuilding

Product Details
$31.99  $29.75
Cambridge University Press
Publish Date
5.9 X 8.9 X 1.1 inches | 1.05 pounds

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About the Author
Séverine Autesserre is an Assistant Professor of Political Science, specializing in international relations and African studies, at Barnard College, Columbia University. Her research focuses on civil wars, peacebuilding and peacekeeping, humanitarian aid, and African politics, and her findings have appeared in scholarly and policy journals including Foreign Affairs, International Organization, the African Studies Review, the Review of African Political Economy, the Journal of Humanitarian Affairs, and Birikim. Over the past twelve years, Professor Autesserre has worked periodically for humanitarian and development agencies in Afghanistan, India, Kosovo, Nicaragua, and the Congo.
"Over a decade old, the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) is now the biggest multilateral peacekeeping effort ever, with close to 20,000 troops and civilian personnel and an operating budget over a billion dollars. Cycles of extreme violence in the country have led to some criticism of the UN's efforts, and Autesserre's book provides a unique ethnography of the organization in the Congo, the outlook and values of its staff, and its operational logic...Autesserre's arguments are clearly stated and compelling..."
- Foreign Affairs
"The Trouble with the Congo is a magnificent accomplishment and is must-reading for anyone interested in whether, why, and how the international community might be able to reduce the cases of violence around the world. Scholars will admire how Autesserre uses a combination of theoretical analysis and ethnography to show us how two different worlds collide, and how peacebuilders do not see the collision even on impact. My hope is that practitioners will take to heart the book's call for critical self-reflection and use its insights for more effective policy prescriptions. Wonderfully written, the book delivers a cool but passionate analysis, born from Autesserre's courage, commitment to Congolese, and sincere desire not to simply identify criticisms of peacebuilding but to suggest ways in which it can improve its craft to help the people on the ground."
- Michael Barnett, University of Minnesota
"What happens when international peacebuilding is culturally focused at the national level, yet most conflict takes place at the local level? Using extensive, painstakingly collected evidence, Autesserre shows that the macro-micro mismatch is not only a methodological shortcoming but also a grave policy failure. By helping to frame a nasty concatenation of local conflicts as a 'postconflict situation, ' this policy focus ended up exacerbating the war and its attendant human suffering. At once a gripping account of war and failed peace in the Congo and a strikingly lucid and original examination of the causes of peacebuilding failure in civil war, this book demonstrates why deep contextual knowledge remains an essential precondition of theoretical innovation."
- Stathis N. Kalyvas, Yale University
"The trouble with the Congo is a well-researched and provocative book, and its arguments are comprehensively supported with solid evidence. The bibliography will be a resource for scholars of Central Africa for decades. The questions Autesserre's arguments raise are based on logical arguments which provide grist for the theoretical mill and open up and point the way to new research agendas." - Michael Nest, African Security Review

"A much-needed contribution to the literature on the micro-dynamics of violence and peacebuilding, Séverine Autesserre's The Trouble with the Congo: Local Violence and the Failure of International Peacebuilding is an outstanding work of political science. It is so meticulously researched and well reasoned - while based on solid evidence - that it is difficult to criticise the author's central claim that conflict continues in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) because it essentially never occurred to the international community that it needed to be concerned with local peacebuilding initiatives. - Laura E. Seay, African Security Review

"Autesserre's interpretation of events in Congo has wide academic appeal and direct policy implications. She recommends devising and implementing local peacebuilding efforts to accompany efforts being made at the national and regional levels.... Autesserre does an excellent job of convincing the reader that, in many ways, international peacebuilders lacked the basic skills, such as knowledge of local power dynamics, linguistic skills, etc, necessary to resolve conflicts at the local level." - Zachariah Mampilly, African Security Review

"Autesserre's recommendations, which open up new avenues of thinking about bottomup peacebuilding strategies, contribute to the establishment of preconditions for a radical change not only in culture but also in action." - Geoffroy Matagne, African Security Review

"Autesserre has powerfully turned our attention to the missing local piece/ peace of the complex challenge that is peacemaking/peacekeeping/peacebuilding, of the violent puzzle that is the eastern DRC, and of many other 'post-conflict' settings.... In this, her book makes a powerful contribution." - Stephen Jackson, African Security Review
"The Trouble with the Congo is an important study that adds greatly to the growing literature on international peacebuilding in Africa and other areas of the world. This study is essential reading for anyone interested in modern Africa and the failure of international peacebuilding in the last two decades." - Sandra Trudgen Dawson, African Conflict & Peacebuilding Review
"Autesserre offers a powerful analysis that contributes to an understanding of the significance of culture in peacekeeping operations, from both an institutional and a grassroots perspective.... Her book is an absolute must for anyone interested in the Congo wars." - Steven Schouten, International Affairs
"The strong and convincing argument for local peace-building will secure the book to be a new fixture in the peace-building literature firmament." - John Karlsrud, Forum for Development Studies