Despite deep roots in local community organizing and peace activism, the peacebuilding field over the past two decades has evolved into a stratified, and often disconnected, community of academics, policymakers, and practitioners. While the growth into a more recognized and professionalized field has led to significant improvements in how decision-makers and influential thinkers accept peace and conflict resolution theory and practice, it has also left certain communities behind. Individual activists, community-based groups, and locally-led civil society organizations – in other words, the people most directly experiencing the results of violent conflict and striving to overcome and transform it - remain notably on the margins of what has become the more recognized “international peacebuilding field.”
As a result, the inherent links between policies and practices of the global North, particularly the United States, where much of the professional peacebuilding community is concentrated, and the daily realities of rising violence and collapsing order experienced by communities in the global South, are glossed over or apportioned to the fields of political science or international affairs. Similarly, the daily community level efforts of people and groups within the United States and other global North countries seeking to address drivers of violence and injustice in their own communities are largely disconnected from the struggles of communities living inside recognized war zones for a more peaceful and just future.
These disconnects within the peacebuilding field have increasingly become obstacles to its further evolution and improvement. Without a serious shift in direction toward more integrated, interconnected, and intersectional understanding and approaches, the peacebuilding field threatens to become just another Western-driven industry in which powerful decision-makers, politicized funding, and large international bureaucracies sustain themselves. Reconnecting the field with its roots of community-based activism, organizing, and courageous leadership is urgently needed, and a necessary step to improving our collective efforts to build a more peaceful, just, and sustainable world. Drawing on the voices and experiences of community-based peace leaders around the world, this book envisions a new way of working together as a truly local and global peacebuilding field - one in which undoing the roots of violence and injustice is not something that takes place “in the field”, but in the streets of our own neighborhoods and in solidarity with others around the world.
Part I: The Problem with Peacebuilding
Chapter OneThe Story Behind this Book
Chapter TwoThe Search for Peace and the Loss of Agency
Chapter ThreeA Research Approach to Local Peacebuilding
Part II: Choosing Peace in the Midst of Violence
Chapter FourI Am Because You Are: Relational Responsibility and Peace Agency
Chapter FiveRisk and Resilience
Chapter SixIt’s About Trust: Local Perspectives on International Peacebuilders
Part III: Locally Grounded, Globally Connected
Chapter SevenLocal Peacebuilding Begins at Home
Chapter EightInclusive Peacebuilding: Confronting Power, Privilege, and Racism
Chapter NineWe Are All Peacebuilders
Bridget Moix has in-depth experience of how peace building actually works. She knows how individual activists, community-based groups, and locally-led civil society organizations—the people most directly experiencing the results of violent conflict and striving to transform it—remain on the margins of the more recognized international peacebuilding field. She tackles what that means in her daily work, building links between the policies and practices of the global North and the realities of communities living inside war zones struggling to build a safer and more just future. She is devoted to enabling the voices of local peace builders to be heard. Working with her, I marvel not only at the knowledge she has gained in years of hands-on experience, but the human connections she has established, and the empathy with which she communicates. This is someone to listen to; she knows.
Bridget Moix is an advocate, educator, and activist who believes in the power of local people to build lasting peace. She has worked with a variety of peacebuilding organizations and holds a doctorate degree in conflict resolution. Bridget currently leads the US office of Peace Direct, an international organization that works with local people to stop violent conflict and build lasting peace.