University of Sussex
Daoust, Gabrielle.pdf (3.48 MB)

Education and the critique of liberal peacebuilding: the case of South Sudan

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posted on 2023-06-09, 13:50 authored by Gabrielle Daoust
Contemporary peacebuilding debates centre on questions of effectiveness, relevance, and sustainability, broadly contrasting a ‘liberal peace’ model and more ‘critical’ perspectives. The critical peacebuilding literature calls for a transformative approach addressing inequalities and systemic violence underpinning conflict, promoting ‘local’ engagement, and responding to ‘everyday’ priorities. Education systems play central roles in reproducing or challenging relations of power, privilege, and inequality associated with violent conflict, and represent key sites of ‘local’ and ‘everyday’ engagement. However, the critical literature has paid limited attention to education’s potential, and political, peacebuilding role. In this thesis, I explore the importance of education in peacebuilding and argue that peacebuilding scholarship should seriously engage with education. Using a case study approach and a critical cultural political economy framework, I explore links between education, inequality, and peacebuilding in South Sudan, through analysis of donor and government policies and interviews with 217 education and peacebuilding actors. I suggest that education policies and practices reproduce political, economic, and cultural inequalities and violence and undermine peacebuilding aims in three broad ways. First, education resource and service distribution reproduces, justifies, and institutionalises geographic and intergroup disparities and grievances associated with ‘real’ and perceived inequalities. Second, ‘local’ participation strategies based on ‘decentralised’ governance reproduce patterns of political exclusion, exploitation, and mistrust between ‘local’ communities and authorities. Third, formal education practices and informal narratives concerning identity and difference, in relation to inequality, conflict, and peace, reproduce colonial forms of oppression and violence. These findings demonstrate the complexity of education’s peacebuilding role, expanding critical discussions concerning inequalities, the ‘local’, and the ‘everyday’ and providing insight into specific sociopolitical processes through which these can be addressed, both analytically and ‘practically’.


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