This article examines questions of local ownership in post-conflict peacebuilding and makes the case that the complex relationship between insiders and outsiders lies at the very heart of contemporary peacebuilding processes. While the discourse of local ownership has increasingly become part of the vocabulary of post-conflict peacebuilding, the discussion to date on both the meanings and the practices of local ownership in peacebuilding contexts remains underdeveloped. This article is therefore an effort to add substance to the local ownership debate, and outlines two forms of peacebuilding—liberal and communitarian—which contain markedly different assumptions concerning the role of local actors in peacebuilding processes. Ultimately, the article suggests that the search for ways to operationalize local ownership principles remains one of the key challenges of contemporary peacebuilding, and outlines a vision of peacebuilding as cultural exchange as a way forward.
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