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Keywords:

  • resilience;
  • international statebuilding;
  • liberal internationalism;
  • community;
  • civil society

This article seeks to draw out the ideological nature of discourses of resilience, and traces their rise in international statebuilding approaches. It suggests that this shift to resilience follows disillusionment with liberal internationalist understandings that Western or international actors could resolve problems of development, democracy and peace through the export of liberal institutions. Interventionist discourses have increasingly stressed the importance of local capacities, vulnerabilities and agencies and, in doing so, have facilitated the evasion of Western responsibility for the outcomes of statebuilding interventions through problematising local practices and understandings as productive of risks and threats and as barriers to liberal progress.