Reformera det informella: Analys av hur ekonomisk informalitet formas som politiskt objekt inom internationella interventioner i konfliktdrabbade länder

Tidsperiod: 2015-07-01 till 2018-06-30

Projektledare: Anna Danielsson

Finansiär: Vetenskapsrådet

Bidragstyp: Bidrag för anställning eller stipendier

Budget: 3 150 000 SEK

The project analyses the knowledge production and constitution of economic informality as object of international intervention into post-conflict societies. “Informal economies” encompass economic activities that occur outside a state´s laws and regulations. The liberal peace´s merging of peacebuilding and statebuilding has made anti-informality operations a major yet varied international peacebuilding practice, deemed crucial for the establishment of self-sustaining peace. However, few achievements can be noted. To understand the varieties within the international peacebuilding practice of informality and to assess how such anti-informality operations may be improved to strengthen conditions for self-sustaining peace, it is enough neither to study interventions merely from the viewpoint of local dynamics nor to carry out an abstract critique of liberal peacebuilding. Anti-informality operations need to be treated as objects of construction and analysis in their own right – as knowledgeable practices. Following this, the main research question of the project concerns how the thinking and acting within anti-informality operations realised by the World Bank, the ILO and other international organisations are conditioned, for example in terms of how and why certain aspects of informality are formulated as “problems” rather than others. To fulfil this purpose, the project draws on Pierre Bourdieu´s reflexive theorising. It introduces the “transnational field of economic informality” as tool for analysing the international constitution of informality in relation to local dynamics in four selected post-conflict countries. The project conducts fieldwork within relevant international organisations and uses interview material together with textual analysis of policy documents, assessment reports and other secondary material. By studying the international knowledge production of post-conflict economic informality, the project contributes both empirically and theoretically to the research fields of peacebuilding and international interventions. Despite the acknowledged relevance of informal economies in post-conflict environments there is no previous research on how international organisations and professionals involved in peacebuilding understand, think and act upon the phenomenon. The project fills this gap which renders three empirical contributions. Theoretically, the project develops a framework through which to study international knowledge production in a manner that unites the international and the local. In this way, the project contributes to the theoretical/analytical development of the recently emerged "post-liberal" research agenda for peace that seeks to improve the current liberal paradigm.The possibility to stay at the Department of International Politics at Aberystwyth University, considered the UK´s leading centre of excellence in theoretical explorations of international and transnational relations, provides a huge added value to the project. Studies of knowledge production are relatively absent from Swedish research on international relations and international governance. The stay in Aberystwyth would therefore provide crucial theoretical expertise and critical examination. It would constitute a unique opportunity for me to discuss my research with some of the leading scholars in the fields of peacebuilding, knowledge production and international interventions.