How peacebuilding has become a ritualised space – An aidnography from Germany and Nepal

There is now an updated and more comprehensive post on the completed PhD project!

This is the abstract of my PhD thesis How peacebuilding has become a ritualised space – An aidnography from Germany and Nepal

This research uses structural ritualisation as an approach to study peacebuilding communities in Germany and Nepal. Based on anthropological and sociological literature a ritual theory framework is used to emphasise the importance of symbolism, liminality and performances for the ethnographic study of aid (aidnography). The analysis of the fieldwork in Germany starts with the peace research community and their workshops, conferences and trainings. Ritualisation processes around acceptable forms of knowledge are the basis on which new policy institutions operate; leaving discourses unchallenged. For example the PEACE network that aims at facilitating learning and knowledge management on peacebuilsing inside German development institutions. Detailed organisational ethnography of the PEACE network and a training event at Germany’s technical cooperation agency provide interesting answers to questions of agency, liminal learning spaces and structural ritualisation. In post-conflict Nepal the research also analyses workshops and conferences as powerful spaces in which stability is maintained during the social transformation processes in the country. Additionally, ethnographic vignettes offer insights into the capillary system of the peacebuilding economy comprising of public, professional and private spaces. Ritual entrepreneurs reinforce capitalistic exchange processes on physical and virtual marketplaces in Kathmandu. In the end, this thesis attempts to use a self-reflective ethnographic approach to highlight the complexities of transnational development professionalism within the discourse of liberal peacebuilding. It also engages with core anthropological concepts of agency and positionality that include the researcher in the research process, thereby highlighting the interaction between traditional anthropology and multi-sited research in the global realm of transnational development work.

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