The political economy of peacebuilding: The case of women's cooperatives in Nepal

Smita Ramnarain

Abstract


Critiques of liberal, top-down approaches to peacebuilding have motivated a discussion of alternative, locally-led, and community-based approaches to achieving and maintaining sustainable peace. This article uses a case study of women's savings and credit cooperatives in post-violence Nepal to examine the ways in which grassroots-based, locally-led peace initiatives can counter top-down approaches. The article presents ethnographic evidence from fieldwork in Nepal on how cooperatives expand through their everyday activities the definition of peace to include not only the absence of violence (negative peace) but transformatory goals such as social justice (positive peace). By focusing on ongoing root causes of structural violence, cooperatives problematize the postconflict period where pre-war normalcy is presumed to have returned. They emphasize local agency and ownership over formal peace processes. The findings suggest ongoing struggles that cooperatives face due to their existence within larger, liberal paradigms of international postconflict aid and reconstruction assistance. Their uneasy relationship with liberal economic structures limit their scale and scope of effectiveness even as they provide local alternatives for peacebuilding.

Keywords


Peacebuilding; women; cooperatives

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15355/epsj.8.2.26

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