Strength Without Power: Examining the Spatial Practices of MINUSTAH and Perceptions of Power in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
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This thesis argues that spatial practices play a considerable role towards how the host population perceives a peacekeeping mission. Using the case study of MINUSTAH in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, this thesis examines what spatial practices shape different perceptions of power. It conceptualises different forms of power to be strength, authority, and legitimacy, and building from former research, it assumes that legitimacy, referred to throughout this thesis as legitimate power, is the key component for constructing positive perceptions by a local population towards a peacekeeping mission. Without legitimate power, this thesis argues that a mission is not only perceived negatively but is perceived as a form of colonial power. If peacekeeping missions are perceived to resemble colonial power, it significantly undermines the mission’s potential and thus understanding what shapes and constructs legitimate power is important for unlocking a mission’s potential. This thesis argues that to establish legitimacy, the key component is direct contact. As such, spatial practices that promote direct contact and integration between peacekeepers and the local population play a valuable role that facilitates positive perceptions. Conversely, spatial practices that keep the peacekeeper isolated from the population have a counterproductive impact as they exaggerate social distinctions, and enable images in public space to convey problematic meaning, which consequently produces and reproduces negative perceptions amongst the host population.