Séverine Autesserre’s new book The Trouble with the Congo: Local Violence and the Failure of International Peacebuilding explores the DRC’s unsuccessful transition from war to peace and democracy. Grassroots rivalries over land, resources and political power motivated widespread violence. However, a dominant peacebuilding culture shaped the intervention strategy in a way that precluded action on local conflicts. Most international actors interpreted continued fighting as a consequence of national and regional tensions alone. Diplomats and UN staff constructed local peacebuilding as such an unimportant, unfamiliar and unmanageable task that neither shocking events nor resistance from certain individuals could convince international actors to reevaluate their understanding of violence and intervention. Through this in-depth analysis, Séverine Autesserre proposes innovative ways to address civil wars in Africa and beyond.

Hosted by CMI researcher Ingrid Samset, and with CMI’s Deputy Director Arne Strand and former CMI Director Gunnar M. Sørbø, this literary salon with author Séverine Autesserre will elaborate on the Congo experience and discuss strategies for peacebuilding and international intervention in war-torn areas.

Séverine Autesserre is Assistant Professor of political science at Barnard College, Columbia University. Her research focuses on civil wars, peacebuilding and peacekeeping, humanitarian aid, and African politics. Professor Autesserre has also worked periodically for humanitarian and development agencies in Afghanistan, the Congo, India, Kosovo, and Nicaragua. She has conducted extensive fieldwork in the eastern Congo since 2001.