The Bifurcation of the Two Worlds: Assessing the Gap Between the Internationals and Locals in State-Building Processes


Par Nicolas Lemay-Hébert
Third World Quarterly, vol.32, no 10, 2011.

Studies increasingly highlight the limits of state building conducted ‘from the top-down’. Building on the literature and using a Rosenauian concept in a novel way, this article posits that international interventions create a ‘bifurcation of the two worlds’. Departing from a study of Kosovo and Timor-Leste, the article posits that the massive arrival of staff involved in international governance will create a social gap between the international and the local ‘worlds’, which will in turn become a target of narratives of resistance by local actors. This bifurcation is exemplified by the ‘white car syndrome’, a concept representing the horde of white UN vehicles accompanying major interventions and developed in this contribution. Thus, the article attempts to shed new light on the legitimacy crises that Kosovo and Timor-Leste experienced at the beginning of the current century, while demonstrating and increasing the linkages between development studies and peace studies.

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