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Beyond Hybridity to the Politics of Scale: International Intervention and ‘Local’ Politics

Hameiri, S. and Jones, L. (2017) Beyond Hybridity to the Politics of Scale: International Intervention and ‘Local’ Politics. Development and Change, 48 (1). pp. 54-77.

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The evident failures of international peacebuilding and statebuilding interventions (PSBIs) have recently prompted a focus on the interaction between interventions and target societies and states. Especially popular has been the ‘hybridity’ approach, which understands forms of peace and governance emerging through the mixing of local and international agendas and institutions. This article argues that hybridity is a highly problematic optic. Despite contrary claims, hybridity scholarship falsely dichotomizes ‘local’ and ‘international’ ideal-typical assemblages, and incorrectly presents outcomes as stemming from conflict and accommodation between them. Scholarship in political geography and state theory provides better tools for explaining PSBIs’ outcomes as reflecting socio-political contestation over power and resources. We theorize PSBIs as involving a politics of scale, where different social forces promote and resist alternative scales and modes of governance, depending on their interests and agendas. Contestation between these forces, which may be located at different scales and involved in complex, tactical, multi-scalar alliances, explains the uneven outcomes of international intervention. We demonstrate this using a case study of East Timor, focusing on decentralization and land policy.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing
Copyright: © 2017 International Institute of Social Studies
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