The Bifurcation of the Two Worlds: assessing the gap between internationals and locals in state-building processes

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Colleges, School and Institutes


More and more studies highlight the limits of state-building conducted ‘from the top-down’. Building on the literature on the subject and using a Rosenauian concept in a novel way, this article posits that international interventions tend to create a ‘bifurcation of the two worlds’. Departing from a study of Kosovo and Timor-Leste, the article posits that the massive arrival of staff involved in international governance will create a social gap between the international and the local ‘worlds’, which will in turn fuel local resistance as this gap will become target of narratives of resistance by certain local actors. This bifurcation is exemplified by the ‘white car syndrome’, a concept representing the horde of white UN vehicles accompanying major interventions and developed in this contribution. Thus, this article attempts to shed a new light on the legitimacy crises that Kosovo and Timor-Leste experienced at the beginning of the current century, while increasing the linkages between development studies and peace studies.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1823-1841
Number of pages19
JournalThird World Quarterly
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011