Conflict Resolution and the Everyday Politics of International Intervention

Peaceland suggests a new explanation for why international peace interventions often fail to reach their full potential.


Based on several years of ethnographic research in conflict zones around the world, Peaceland demonstrates that everyday elements – such as the expatriates’ social habits and usual approaches to understanding their areas of operation – strongly influence peacebuilding effectiveness.

Individuals from all over the world and all walks of life share numerous practices, habits, and narratives when they serve as interveners in conflict zones. These common attitudes and actions enable foreign peacebuilders to function in the field, but they also result in unintended consequences that thwart international efforts. Certain expatriates follow alternative modes of thinking and doing, often with notable results, but they remain in the minority. Through an in-depth analysis of the interveners’ everyday life and work, this book proposes innovative ways to better help host populations build a sustainable peace.


“Essential reading for practitioners, policy makers, and donors involved in international interventions in conflict areas.”

Catherine Dumait-Harper, Former MSF Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders Representative to the United Nations

“[A] groundbreaking inquest.”

René Lemarchand, Emeritus Professor, University of Florida

“This book raises the bar of academic research for the whole discipline of international relations.”

Vincent Pouliot, Associate Professor and William Dawson Scholar, Department of Political Science, McGill University, and Director, Centre for International Peace and Security Studies

“A pathbreaking contribution to our understanding of the contemporary practice of peacebuilding – and global politics.”

Michael Barnett, University Professor of International Relations and Political Science, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University

“Another superb contribution to the study of peacebuilding.”

Roland Paris, University Research Chair in International Security and Governance, University of Ottawa

 “Séverine Autesserre’s book provides an outstanding glimpse of international peace efforts in conflict-torn societies.”

Peace and Change

“Séverine Autesserre has positioned herself as an authoritative voice in this aspect of IR [International Relations] . . . Autesserre has an eye for the daily occurring intricacies and contradictions of resolving complex emergencies.”

Cambridge Review of International Affairs

 “The ambition and systematic character of this book marks a threshold in the field.”

Perspectives on Politics

 “I’m hereby joining the chorus of people telling you to add Séverine Autesserre’s Peaceland to your summer reading list.”

Wronging Rights

“. . .  a must-read for intervention practitioners, policy advocates, scholars and researchers in the field, as well as educators in the classroom.”

International Feminist Journal of Politics

“This is a book that you can sit down on the couch and enjoy reading while sipping your afternoon coffee . . . This book will give you a rich understanding of effectiveness of intervention, whether you’ve worked in conflict zones or not. . . Highly recommended!”

Wandering Educators

“Likely to remain for a long time a must-read.”

Journal of International Organization Studies

“Indispensable reading.”

African Arguments

I’d love to read what you’ve thought of Peaceland! Please consider posting a review of this book on your favorite webpage—or on Amazon, Goodreads, or Barnes and Noble. Thanks so much!

More Information


1. Studying the Everyday

Part I. Constructing Knowledge of the Host Country:
2. The Politics of Knowledge
3. Local Reactions
4. Fumbling in the Dark

Part II. Constructing and Maintaining Boundaries:
5. The Interveners’ Circle
6. A Structure of Inequality
7. Daily Work Routines

Conclusion: Transforming Peaceland
Appendix: An Ethnographic Approach