Assembling the 'Post-Conflict' State in United Nations Public Discourse
: Kosovo and the Contemporary Geopolitics of Peace

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Abstract

Contemporary United Nations (UN) peace operations are characterised by multilateral interventions in ‘failed states’. Often assuming responsibility for part, or all, of the state’s administration, they undertake tasks as diverse as conducting elections, providing a police force, and managing the return of displaced people. Contextualising these operations within geopolitical transformations after the Cold War, this thesis examines the relationship between the UN and the state, and considers what their interaction reveals about the possibilities for peace in today’s globalised politics.
Through a systematic examination of resolutions, policy documents, and mission reports, I identify how the UN conceptualises peace as an ideal, and the role it attributes to the state in the pursuit of peace. I then consider how this geopolitical vision was manifest in the UN’s efforts to develop autonomy and self-government in post-war Kosovo. The analysis is informed by a combination of assemblage theory and the political philosophy of Baruch Spinoza. These theories offer a useful explanatory framework for apprehending the complex interplay and co-constitution of ‘local’, ‘national’, and ‘international’ actors that shape the possibilities for peace in any given context.
The thesis therefore responds to a conceptual tension present in existing geographical literature on peace – the tension between understanding peace as a localised ‘bottom-up’ process, and peace as maintained by transnational authorities and state institutions. In my analysis of the UN intervention in Kosovo, I aim to demonstrate a productive way of including states, institutions, and international organisations in the geographical study of peace, but without losing the critical sensibility of the existing literature, nor a recognition of the importance of local productions of peace.
Date of Award21 Jan 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorMark Jackson (Supervisor) & Naomi R Millner (Supervisor)

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