Peace and recovery
: witnessing lived experience in Sierra Leone

  • Lauren Twort

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    A critical re-examination of the liberal peace is conducted to explore the ways
    in which certain ideas around peace have come to dominate and to be regarded
    as “common sense”. The foundation of my critique comes in the personalisation of peacebuilding through the stories of people who are the intended beneficiaries of its actions. This thesis seeks to open up and challenge the current measures of success and the location of power by introducing voices and experiences of Mende people located in the Southern and Eastern provinces of Sierra Leone.

    I have attempted to open up a reflexive space where simple questions can be
    re-examined and the location of recovery can be seen as a space influenced,
    shaped and performed in the context of diverse influences. I draw on my
    personal experience living in Bo, Sierra Leone for two months in 2014 and
    local level actors' subjective reflections on individual and communal notions
    of recovery, post-conflict.

    My findings are reflected in “building blocks” that uncover a partial story of
    personal perspectives on recovery. The story suggests a de-centred and
    complex “local” within the existing context and realigns the understanding of
    subject and agency within peacebuilding. This collection of experiences,
    stories and encounters reshapes the notion of peace as an everyday activity
    with the aim of improving well-being on a personal level. It is also a part of
    the peacebuilding process that exists outside of the traditional organisational

    My main contribution has been in allowing alternative space(s) of peacebuilding and peace-shaping to have a platform that is not restricted by the confined epistemic “expert” community toward an understanding of “progress” as an experiential and subjective process of recovery. This approach sought to challenge the current site of legitimacy, power and knowledge, and in order to achieve this aim I drew on a new methodological toolkit and the absorption of key concepts from other disciplines such as managerialism and the sociological concept of the “stranger”.

    My research offers an opportunity to observe and utilise information sourced from the creativity and spontaneity of the everyday lived experiences of Sierra Leoneans and ordinary phenomena connected with this.
    Date of Award2015
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Roehampton
    SupervisorWilson Ng (Supervisor) & John Louth (Supervisor)


    • Bo; Development; Liberal Peace; Managerialism; Neo-Liberalism; Peacebuilding; Performance Indicators; Positionality; Post-Conflict; Poststructural; Power; Recovery; Reflexivity; Sierra Leone; Success

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