Nicolas Lemay-Hebert is a Senior Lecturer at the International Development Department (IDD) at the University of Birmingham. He is the co-editor of the Journal of Intervention and State building and the Routledge Series on Intervention and State building. His research interests include state building and peacebuilding, local narratives of resistance to international interventions, and the political economy of interventions.
Rosa Freedman is Professor of Law, Conflict and Global Development at the University of Reading. Rosa researches and writes on the United Nations, with a particular interest in the human rights bodies and in peacekeeping. Rosa has a broader interest in the impact of politics, international relations, the media, and civil society both on the work and proceedings of international institutions and on states’ compliance with international human rights norms
Nicolas Lemay-Hébert and Rosa Freedman have been exploring the recent developments in the concept of hybridity through a multi-disciplinary approach, encompassing ideas within the field of law, culture and development in their edited book, “Hybridity: Law, Culture and development” published in 2017 by Routledge.
The concept of hybridity has become an all-purpose theoretical concept, having migrated from the cultural and post-colonial fields to encompass many disciplines, including international development, security, peace, law among others.
This book’s main objectives is to create a space for a conversation to take place inside disciplines as well as across them, with the final aim of creating bridges between different accounts and perspectives of hybridity and hybridization. This is well reflected in the background of contributors of this book. The contributors of this book have backgrounds ranging from law, cultural and literary studies, security and development studies as well as conflict studies. The book also connects the concept of hybridity with discussions around power structures and relations.
What then is hybridization?
Within the field of cultural and post-colonial studies, hybridization can be understood on two levels. On the micro level, hybridization has been associated with the study of the breaking up of racial, national, linguistics or other identity binaries, as well as revealing connectors and influences across national borders, the process refuting the boundedness and essentialism of modern episteme. On the macro level, hybridization is seen as a way to analyse the impact of globalization, sometimes with direct connection with the reactive nationalism or ethnicities in the Balkans and Africa.
Within the field of development and conflict studies, hybridity has become important following criticisms and failures of liberal interventionist practices in especially analysing the ‘liberal-local’ hybrid peace process and the interplay between international and local practices. In the field of law, the legal pluralism debate also revolves around, on one hand, a distinction between political alternative models that could deal with the failure of state-centre approaches or existing ‘national’ structures of equality and justice, and on the other hand the practical analysis of hybridization practices.
The book also features contributions from some of IDD’s staff, including Philipp Lottholz, Professor Paul Jackson and Dr. Danielle Beswick.
Philip Lottholz in his chapter on “nothing more than a conceptual lens? Situation hybridity in social inquiry” has argued for a more ontological understanding of hybridity and what exactly is been hybridized.
Danielle Beswick’s chapter on “hybrid approaches to peace and justice: the case of post-genocide Rwanda” also analyses hybrid state building Rwanda. In this chapter, she reviews the hybrid peace process developed after the genocide through the local transitional justice system. She also argues that “hybrid forms of peace” created can lead to the strengthening of the position of specific local elites. She then questions who specifically gains from such solutions.
In his chapter on, “hybridity or co-existence? The Politics of legal pluralism in the West African countryside”, Professor Paul Jackson analyses power at the local level and the different ways local actors use their positionalities to further their own agenda. Jackson does this through a study of the relationship between local power, decentralized authority and justice in the West African countryside through the lens of hybridity, underscoring the fact that local authorities are neither fully formal nor informal or indeed, traditional or modern.
Overall, the book highlighted an understanding of the concept of hybridization from different theoretical fields.
The book, Hybridity: Law, Culture and Development, is available for open access until the end of August at: http://www.readcube.com/articles/10.4324/9781315561950?author_access_token=ZXp4_RFt1C4m1BRvyZcAkALBIUWHziPdsn0vlMIwK3S9yVIsIm9xb_EUpqSxF4YqwiGLgOf8JDZt5dGlk-myF0EHf07CUktXhnBBEj8uDvgCFvOQmh2-ievP3EsalFSX