Syllabus for Peace from Below

Fredsbyggande ur ett lokalt perspektiv

A revised version of the syllabus is available.


  • 7.5 credits
  • Course code: 2FK059
  • Education cycle: Second cycle
  • Main field(s) of study and in-depth level: Peace and Conflict Studies A1N
  • Grading system: Fail (U), Pass (G), Pass with distinction (VG)
  • Established: 2019-05-09
  • Established by: The Department Board
  • Applies from: Autumn 2020
  • Entry requirements:

    Fulfilment of the requirements for a Bachelor's degree with a social science subject as the main field of study.

  • Responsible department: Department of Peace and Conflict Research

Learning outcomes

After the course, students should be able to:

  • Identify and critically discuss the central dilemmas that appear when international actors support peace- and state-building initiatives in post-civil war countries.
  • Trace how local elites are able to govern without formal institutions.
  • Identify the conditions under which informal modes of governance can have a positive respectively negative effect on post-war security.
  • Gain a clear understanding of how local groups and communities may perceive and respond to international peace- and state-building initiatives.
  • Independently write an assignment within a given time frame.


How do local actors - such as governing elites, local communities, ethnic minorities, ex-combatants and other war-affected groups - perceive and react to international interventions to build peace and state institutions in the aftermath of war? This course seeks to address this question. During the last decades the international community has invested considerable time and energy in assisting conflict-ridden countries in making the difficult transition from civil war to peace. The stated objective of such interventions - often referred to as peace- and state-building initiatives - is generally to (re)construct formal state institutions and foster collective identities and norms based on democratic and inclusive ideals. International actors thereby hope to prevent the outbreak of new violence. Recent experiences have, however, shown that such interventions seldom achieve their stated objectives. Not only do peace- and state-building initiatives often generate façade institutions - whereby much power continues to be concentrated in informal networks - many local communities perceive the former as foreign and oppressive interventions that marginalise their political and economic influence.

The aim of the course is to provide an alternative perspective on contemporary peace- and state-building processes, where the experiences and actions of local actors and groups are put in focus. The course will, more specifically, address the following questions: Why is it so difficult to construct formal, functioning state institutions in the aftermath of civil wars? How do local elites govern without institutions? Do informal modes of governance sow the seeds of new violence, or can they also be used to further peace? How do local groups and communities view and respond to international peace- and state-building initiatives?

The course is carried out through lectures and seminars where the students discuss and critically assess the course literature. The acquired knowledge, as well as the ability to integrate knowledge and skills and independently formulate and solve problems, is accounted for a in final academic paper.


Instruction/teaching is given in the form of lectures and various seminars.


Examination and final grading is based on student performance in two respects:

  • A final course memo in the form of a written academic paper
  • Active participation during seminars and lectures

Grades: Pass with distinction (VG), Pass (G), Fail (U). Two retake opportunities are offered every year the course is given.

If there are special reasons for doing so, an examiner may make an exception from the method of assessment indicated and allow a student to be assessed by another method. An example of special reasons might be a certificate regarding special pedagogical support from the University's disability coordinator.

Syllabus Revisions

Reading list

Reading list

Applies from: Autumn 2021

Some titles may be available electronically through the University library.

  • Paris, Roland At war's end : building peace after civil conflict

    Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004

    pp. 1-289

    Find in the library


  • Paris, Roland; Sisk, Timothy D. The dilemmas of statebuilding : confronting the contradictions of postwar peace operations

    London: Routledge, 2009

    pp. 23-52

    Find in the library

  • Richmond, Oliver P.; Mitchell, Audra. Hybrid forms of peace [Elektronisk resurs] : From everyday agency to post-liberalism

    Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011

    Find in the library

  • Chandler, David; Campbell, Susanna; Sabaratnam, Meera A liberal peace? [Elektronisk resurs] : the problems and practices of peacebuilding

    London: Zed Books, 2011


    Find in the library

  • Berdal, Mats R.; Wennmann, Achim Ending wars, consolidating peace : economic perspectives

    Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, for the International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2010.

    Menkhaus, Ken (2010), “State Failure and Ungoverned Space,"

    Find in the library

  • Utas, Mats African conflicts and informal power : big men and networks

    London: Zed Books, 2012

    pp. 1-34

    Find in the library

  • Waal, Alex de The real politics of the Horn of Africa : money, war and the business of power

    Cambridge: Polity, 2015

    pp. 1-34, 174-218

    Find in the library

Articles, e-books, and book chapters available through electronic services of the library will also be included in the reading list. Detailed and up-to-date information about the reading list for this year will be made available in the Course Guide.

Last modified: 2022-04-26