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?
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.