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Rethinking global knowledge production of ‘the local’

The role of political anthropology in international interventions

Add to calendar 2022-06-20 09:00 2022-06-21 14:30 Europe/Rome Rethinking global knowledge production of ‘the local’ Sala Cappella Villa Schifanoia YYYY-MM-DD


Mon 20 Jun 2022 09.00 - 18.00

Tue 21 Jun 2022 09.30 - 14.30


Sala Cappella

Villa Schifanoia

In this conference, we interrogate the way in which political anthropology perspectives feed into – or not – decision making, mandates, implementation, setbacks and adjustment processes.

International interventions, broadly understood from military to development, have dubious track records. Complex political and military objectives interact in a competitive space where the ‘global’ and the ‘local’ do not map on evenly. From Afghanistan to Iraq, from Somalia to the Sahel, the gap between objectives and outcomes, and between global and local understanding of ‘the problem’ and ‘the solutions’, are wide, producing consequences that affect communities at their receiving end in often disturbing ways. Interventions may be counter-productive to aims of stability and prosperity, and often reinforce local vulnerabilities rather than ameliorate them. Despite collective calls and public commitment to ‘local ownership’, ‘lessons learned’ and ‘security-development nexus’, interventions often continue to feed insecurity, uprooting, and grievances rather than address them.  

In this conference, we interrogate this ongoing challenge by focussing on the production of knowledge in the imagination / implementation / endurance / rearticulation of interventions (understood in their broader meaning, from military to development) and their dubious effects. We are particularly concerned with the way in which political anthropology perspectives feed into – or not – decision making, mandates, implementation, setbacks and adjustment processes. This captures the systemic dimension of knowledge and power. Speakers will hail from IR, anthropology, conflict studies and area studies.  


Three questions will guide the discussions:


1. Which and whose expertise about local conditions ‘count’, and at which stage? 

2. How do experiences from other contexts travel and are made relevant in interventions? 

3. Which process of contesting and negotiating ‘global’ understanding of the ‘local problem’ can be observed? 


These questions will be interrogated through five panels: 


1. Identifying ‘the problem’

2. Prescribing the solutions

3. Adaptations and implementation

4. Handling setbacks

5. Who owns the long-term?


Scientific organisers:


Professor Olivier Roy | European University Institute

Dr Michele Nori | European University Institute 

Dr Greta Semplici | European University Institute 

Dr Giulia Gonzales | European University Institute

Dr Cynthia Salloum | NATO Defence College

Dr Simone Tholens | Cardiff University & European University Institute 

This conference is the product of a cross-disciplinary collaboration between different units at the EUI/RSC and external collaborators, including the MEDirection, the PASTRES project, and the NATO Defence College. Speakers hail from IR, Anthropology, and Area Studies, which will enrich and stimulate discussions on the role of knowledge and expertise in a variety of interventions. 


Valentina Gorgoni


Olivier Roy (EUI)

Simone Tholens (European University Institute and John Cabot University)

Michele Nori (EUI - R.Schuman Center)

Edoardo Baldaro (Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies)

Pol Bargués-Pedreny (Barcelona Centre for International Affairs)

Christian Bueger (University of Copenhagen)

Dawn Chatty (Oxford University)

Patrick Haenni (European University Institute and Humanitarian Dialogue)

Jean-Yves Haine (Sorbonne, Sciences Po Paris)

Jean-Hervé Jezequel (International Crisis Group)

Vassily Klimentov (European University Institute)

Shpend Kursani (EUI - Department of Political and Social Sciences)

Andrew Lebovich (European Council of Foreign Relations)

Rima Mehri (European University Institute)

Daniela Musina (Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies)

Luca Rainieri (Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies)

Elisa Randazzo (University of Hertfordshire)

Cynthia Salloum (EUI - Department of Political and Social Sciences)

Peer Schouten (DIIS)

Dr. Greta Semplici (EUI)

Tariq Tell (American University of Beirut)

Serhat Erkmen (Altınbaş University)

Giulia Gonzales (EUI)

Luigi Achilli (Migration Policy Centre, Robert Schuman Centre)

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