Sverine Autesserre, will discuss her book, The Trouble with the Congo, which won the Chadwick Alger prize presented by the International Studies Association for the best book on international organizations and multilateralism published in 2010. The Trouble with the Congo suggests a new explanation for international peacebuilding failures in civil wars. Drawing from more than 330 interviews and a year and a half of field research, Autesserre developed a case study of the international intervention during the Democratic Republic of the Congo's unsuccessful transition from war to peace and democracy (20032006). 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, ultimately dooming the international efforts to end the deadliest conflict since World War II. Most international actors interpreted continued fighting as the consequence of national and regional tensions alone. UN staff and diplomats viewed intervention at the macro levels as their only legitimate responsibility. The dominant culture constructed local peacebuilding as such an unimportant, unfamiliar, and unmanageable task that neither shocking events nor resistance from select individuals could convince international actors to reevaluate their understanding of violence and intervention.
Autesserre is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Barnard College. Prior to her appointment at Barnard, she was a postdoctoral associate and lecturer at Yale University where she conducted research on civil and international wars, international intervention, and African politics. She is affiliated with the Barnard's Africana studies program, Columbia's Saltzman Institute for War and Peace Studies, and Columbia's Institute of African Studies. Professor Autesserre has extensive experience working with international humanitarian and development agencies in Afghanistan, Kosovo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nicaragua, India, and the United States. She has worked for organizations such as Doctors Without Borders and Doctors of the World. https://polisci.barnard.edu/profiles/severine-autesserre