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Reconceptualising Conflict and Peace Building – New Ideas & Actors in a Changing World


This project responds to evolving global challenges relating to insecurity, inequality and shifting global power relations. Peacebuilding is becoming increasingly central to global development policy, as demonstrated by its inclusion on the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.

The character of conflict has changed considerably over recent years. Key trends include the growing role played by rising powers in the field of conflict management and resolution; a shift in western responses to conflict, involving the privileging community resilience over western responsibility; and changes in how conflicts are represented to western publics via the media.

International development agencies are recognising this changing landscape but at the same time are operating at an increasing distance from local communities.

Mainstream approaches for responding to conflict have been heavily critiqued, leading to prominent calls for ‘hybrid’ approaches to peacebuilding seen to be more reflective of the concerns and interests of local actors. While this hybrid focus is welcome, the existing literature has continued to frame local and international approaches in opposition to each other and the general failure to satisfactorily conceptualise and theorise peace and peacebuilding from the bottom up remains a key gap.

Inter-disciplinary analysis is required to better understand the realities of peace and conflict in these dynamic environments, and the ways in which international narratives and conceptualisations of conflict interact with local dynamics and power relations.


Project Summary

The main activity for this community was a sandpit event where discussions between GW4 academics identified a number of sub-themes which could form the basis of future research collaboration. The sandpit was planned via a series of smaller meetings with the community leads which helped mobilise researchers and identify common areas of interest. The Initiator Award helped to facilitate cross-disciplinary discussions within and across GW4 institutions which would not otherwise have happened. The community continued to collaborate; reaching out to NGOs, organising a seminar series and applying for grants (including a successful application in 2017).

University of Bath
University of Bristol
Cardiff University
University of Exeter