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Enforced Hospitality: Local Perceptions of the Legitimacy of International Forces in Afghanistan
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Peace and Conflict Research. Department of Politics, New York University.
2014 (English)In: Civil Wars, ISSN 1369-8249, E-ISSN 1743-968X, Vol. 16, no 4, 425-448 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

While local mission legitimacy has prompted intense political and academic attention in the context of peace operations, our grasp of how host citizens understand the legitimacy of international troops remains limited. This article explores how Afghan citizens perceive the legitimacy of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops. A qualitative analysis of in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with citizens in Kabul deepens our understanding of how ideational and security-related concerns interact and shape local perceptions of legitimacy through two oppositional discursive frames: a liberation frame and an occupation frame. The findings suggest that local mission legitimacy builds on the perceived will and capacity of ISAF troops to help and protect Afghans in ways that are in accordance with Afghan, most notably Islamic, ways of life. The article concludes that ISAF troops are widely perceived to have failed on both ideational and security-based grounds.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2014. Vol. 16, no 4, 425-448 p.
Keyword [en]
legitimacy, local perceptions, ISAF, Afghanistan, international forces, local population, frames, fieldwork
National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
Research subject
Peace and Conflict Research
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-248052DOI: 10.1080/13698249.2014.984383OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-248052DiVA: diva2:798454
Available from: 2015-03-26 Created: 2015-03-26 Last updated: 2017-12-04Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Enforcing Legitimacy: Perspectives on the Relationship between Intervening Armed Forces and the Local Population in Afghanistan
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Enforcing Legitimacy: Perspectives on the Relationship between Intervening Armed Forces and the Local Population in Afghanistan
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Bolstering local perceptions of legitimacy in armed intervention has emerged as an important feature of increasingly complex international peace and statebuilding efforts. Yet, previous research has only begun to explore what local legitimacy entails to those involved in, and affected by, armed intervention. This dissertation advances an understanding of local legitimacy as a perception-based, relational phenomenon. Through this lens, it examines armed intervention in Afghanistan (2001-2014). In particular, this dissertation studies how the relationship between Afghan citizens and intervening armed forces interacts with, and shapes, perspectives on local legitimacy held by the main 'interveners' and those 'intervened upon'. This dissertation consists of an introduction, which situates the study in a wider context, and four essays. Beginning with the organizational perspectives of the main intervening actors in Afghanistan, Essay I finds that the UN and NATO initially conceptualized problems of local legitimacy as principally the consequence of a fragile Afghan state, and not as failings of the intervention. When negative dimensions of intervention became increasingly recognized, principal responsibility for the legitimacy process shifted away from intervening authorities and onto the Afghan state. Similarly, Essay II shows how key U.S. military doctrine, over time, reconceptualized the formal duty of intervening forces in the local legitimacy process, ultimately considering it contingent on, and subordinate to, the will and capabilities of host-state authorities and the local population. Turning thereafter to firsthand accounts from the field, Essay III and Essay IV together contrast personal perspectives on the intervention held by U.S. Army Officers and Afghan citizens. Essay III finds that personal experiences of noncombat contact with Afghans reinforced the Officers' sense of duty toward the local population. Conversely, Essay IV suggests that the local legitimacy of intervening forces became increasingly contested among Afghans, due largely to the perceived intensification of foreign intrusion on 'everyday' life. Taken together, the findings of this dissertation lay the foundation for the development of a new concept, the host-citizen contract. In so doing, it provides a social contract framework to better understand the complex dynamics of local legitimacy in Afghanistan, and beyond.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Uppsala University, Department of Peace and Conflict Research, 2015. 55 p.
Series
Report / Department of Peace and Conflict Research, ISSN 0566-8808 ; 106
Keyword
armed intervention, local legitimacy, Afghanistan, intervening armed forces, military, local population, perceptions, soldiers, ISAF, noncombat contact, peace operations, peacekeeping, military doctrine, contact theory, fieldwork
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Peace and Conflict Research
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-263061 (URN)978-91-506-2489-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-12-12, Gustavianum, Akademigatan 3, Uppsala, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2015-11-16 Created: 2015-09-24 Last updated: 2015-11-25

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Karlborg, Lisa

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