Rowan Popplewell

DPhil Researcher at the School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford

Rowan is a DPhil Candidate at the School of Geography and the Environment. She has been awarded an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) +3 Studentship to pursue her doctoral research on discourses on peace among local civil society groups in conflict and post-conflict contexts.

Rowan's doctoral research critically examines discourses on peace among local civil society groups in the Great Lakes region of Africa. She is working with local civil society groups in two sites, Bujumbura in Burundi and Bukavu in eastern DRC. She is particularly interested in how discourses on peace among local groups are shaped by and shape local spaces of peace. Adopting a dialectical and relational view of discourse, space and power, her research deconstructs discourses to examine how they are produced, and how they shape spaces of peace, and the power relations that characterise them.

Burundi and DRC both have a long history of conflict and violence. While today these countries are often classified as post-conflict states, they continue to suffer from on going violence, low intensity conflict, and political repression. Peacebuilding interventions within the Great Lakes region have sought to promote a particular model of political, social and economic organisation, widely referred to as the liberal peace. However these interventions have been widely criticised, largely for their failure to secure a lasting and embedded peace in the region.

This has led to a renewed focus on local approaches to peace, particularly those among local civil society groups who exist on the margins of liberal peacebuilding discourse. These groups are often seen as a means of resisting dominant peacebuilding discourses and promoting a more sustainable and emancipatory peace across the region. However this is not always the case. Rowan's research problematizes this assumption through deconstructing local discourses on peace among local civil society groups and critically exploring their functions and effects.

Experience

  • –present
    DPhil Researcher at the School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford