Cosmopolitanism and the culture of peacebuilding

Catherine Goetze, Berit Bliesemann de Guevara

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Cosmopolitanism has been argued to be a crucial component of peacebuilding, both with regard to its aims as well as its staff. In a universalist-liberal understanding of the concept, cosmopolitanism is the optimal mind frame for peacebuilders to rebuild post-war societies, due to the tolerance, justice-orientation, and neutrality regarding local cleavages that the concept entails in theory. This article argues, however, that cosmopolitanism cannot be understood outside of its social context, therefore requiring sociological empirical analyses. Drawing on three such sociological concepts, namely elite, glocal, and localisable cosmopolitanism, the article analyses empirically through interviews with peacebuilders in Kosovo whether and in which form these international civil servants display cosmopolitan worldviews. The study concludes that while in theory the localisable variant would be best suited to contribute to locally sensitive, emancipatory peacebuilding, this form of cosmopolitanism is absent in practice. Given the novel, exploratory character of this analysis of hitherto uncharted terrain, the article also discusses in detail how the findings were obtained and in how far they are generalisable.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)771-802
Number of pages32
JournalReview of International Studies
Issue number4
Early online date26 Mar 2014
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2014


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