Beyond the Local Turn: Local Orderings and Ordering of International Organizations

Karolina Kluczewska and Anna Kreikemeyer

Global Cooperation Research Papers 32, Duisburg 2022

Keywords: Central Asia, ethnography, everyday peace, international development, international interventions, local orderings, peacebuilding, the local

DOI: 10.14282/2198-0411-GCRP-32


It has become common knowledge that international organizations (IOs) are struggling with local ownership of their peacebuilding and development interventions worldwide. This happens despite the local turn which gained momentum in recent years in peacebuilding research and practice. Drawing on the post-liberal debate and area studies research focusing on conflict settlement, this paper argues that the continued difficulties of IOs to engage with the local needs to be seen in the context of multiple, diverse forms of ordering, namely structured and structuring processes of meaning-making and social interactions. To illustrate this argument, the paper refers to the case of Central Asia. Conceptualizing local orderings emerging from the ground up in communities which are targeted by internationally funded projects, on the one hand, and the underlying logic of ordering characterizing IOs and their interventions, on the other, allows us to see that there are structural differences between them. Following the Ethnographic Peace Research agenda, this paper compares these two ordering mechanisms by focusing on four specific components: cultural beliefs and norms, everyday practices, institutions, and issues of power.

The Authors

Karolina Kluczewska is a FWO postdoctoral researcher at the Ghent Institute for International and European Studies, Ghent University. In 2021, she was a fellow at the Käte Hamburger Kolleg/Centre for Global Cooperation Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen. Her research interests include development aid, welfare systems, and social policy models in post-socialist/Soviet Eurasia. She also has practical experience in the development sector in Tajikistan, where she worked at the Eurasia Foundation of Central Asia-Tajikistan and International Organization for Migration. She is a member of the academic network ‘Local Ordering and Peace’ based at the Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg (IFSH). 

Anna Kreikemeyer is a researcher at the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg (IFSH). She has conducted research on peace in the post-Soviet space, local and peace formation and the prospects for peace research in Eurasia. She is particularly interested in the views on and practices of local ordering in non-Western contexts. She has established the academic networks ‘Eurasia Peace Studies Exchange’ (2017–2019) and ‘Local Ordering and Peace’ (since 2020). Together with colleagues from the Caucasus, Central Asia, and beyond, she is working on the capacities of different local actors and institutions to manage societal conflict with or without external support. Thus, she aims to contribute to the post-liberal debate on peacebuilding. 

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