Everyday sovereignty: International experts, brokers and local ownership in peacebuilding Liberia

Benjamin de Carvalho, Niels Nagelhus Schia, Xavier Guillaume

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    13 Citations (Scopus)
    319 Downloads (Pure)


    The present article investigates how sovereignty is performed, enacted and constructed in an everyday setting. Based on fieldwork and interviews with international embedded experts about the elusive meaning of ‘local ownership’, we argue that while sovereignty may, indeed, be a model according to which the international community ‘constructs’ rogue or failed polities in ‘faraway’ places, this view overlooks that these places are still spaces in which contestations over spheres of authority take place every day, and thus also spaces in which sovereignty is constructed and reconstructed on a daily basis. Local ownership, then, becomes our starting point for tracing the processes of the everyday enactment of sovereignty. We make the case that sovereignty should not be reified, but instead be studied in its quotidian and dynamic production, involving the multiplicity of actors reflecting the active production of the state beyond its presumptive existence as a homogeneously organized, institutionalized and largely centralized bureaucracy.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)179–202
    Number of pages24
    JournalEuropean Journal of International Relations
    Issue number1
    Early online date9-Mar-2018
    Publication statusPublished - Mar-2019


    • KOSOVO
    • EU

    Cite this