Analysis of what went wrong in Congo wins Grawemeyer Award
International peacekeeping works better when the people trying to do that job pay attention to local conflicts in the countries they are trying to help.
So says Severine Autesserre, a Barnard College political scientist who has won the 2012 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order for the ideas set forth in her book, “The Trouble with the Congo: Local Violence and the Failure of International Peacebuilding.”
Drawing from more than 300 interviews and 18 months of field research, Autesserre analyzed a global effort from 2003 to 2006 to curb widespread violence in the Congo. She found the attempt failed because international workers trying to restore peace overlooked the importance of local disputes over land, resources and political power.
Her message that lasting conflict resolution must take place from the bottom up as well as from the top down “holds great promise for the pursuit of peace,” said award jurors.
Autesserre, who joined Barnard’s faculty in 2007, teaches and does research on civil wars, peacebuilding and peacekeeping, humanitarian aid and African politics. She also conducts a senior research seminar on civil wars and peace settlements at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.
She has traveled to the Congo regularly since 2001 and has worked with international humanitarian and development agencies in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Nicaragua, India and the United States over the past 12 years.
UofL presents four Grawemeyer Awards each year for outstanding works in music composition, world order, psychology and education. The university and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary jointly give a fifth award in religion. This year’s awards are $100,000 each.