Beyond liberal institution (re)building: conversations on peacebuilding and statebuilding in Sierra Leone

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This paper contributes to debates on the relationship between peacebuilding and statebuilding with its analysis of post-independence Sierra Leone. It considers the extent to which peacebuilding has returned Sierra Leonean society to post-independence statebuilding conversations and how the issues that have emanated from such conversations have interacted with settlement and post-settlement arrangements. This paper analyses original data from focus group discussions and interviews in fieldwork from January 2016. It finds that the situation in Sierra Leone heralded opportunities for peacebuilding processes to engage concerns that have been linked with historical statebuilding conversations. Yet formal statebuilding processes, which were particularly focused on liberal institution building in the post-conflict context, were not sufficiently attentive to their antecedents. Nonetheless there are suggestions of some engagement with extant statebuilding conversations particularly in relation to how ethnicity continues to colour the statebuilding project, the significance of intergroup dynamics across intergenerational exchanges and gender and the challenges of socio-economic exclusion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-453
Number of pages23
JournalConflict, Security & Development
Issue number4
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Sept 2021


  • conversations
  • liberal institutionbuilding
  • Peacebuilding
  • Sierra Leone
  • statebuilding


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