Although critical peacebuilding scholarship appears to pay more attention to the role of local actors in the process of liberal peacebuilding on the ground, it is not clear who/what “local” is in academia and politics. The concept of local tends to be constructed against the category of the international assumed in much local turn literature and practices. However, without an ethnographic understanding and awareness of power relations underlying local, who/what the local is can be easily generalized, essentialized, and undermined by the limited understanding of local by political leaders, experts, and scholars. This panel addresses the gap between theory and practice of peacebuilding in the context of post-conflict countries by asking: who/what the locals are. This panel contributes to bridging the enlarging irrelevance of theory and practice of the local turn of peacebuilding by developing the concept of the local and more gender-informed empirical study. The panelists from Social Science approach one or more of the following questions coming across the disciplines: how does a political understanding of the concept of local help problematize the everyday or hybrid experiences of individuals in the peacebuilding stage? Does the concept of local offer different sense of "power" and "agency" embedded in social contexts and peoples’ experiences as our research exemplifies? In which way is “local” a valid analytical or political tool to politicize the peacebuilding discourses and its practices? What epistemology and methodology are suggested in a local-based empirical study of post-conflict countries? There are one organizer, one chair, and four discussants addressing different aspects of post-conflict Timor-Leste while similarly challenging the presumption of a prior and pure existence of local: Li-Li is the organizer; Qingming serves as the chair; Gabriel questions what constitutes the identity of Timor-Leste in a hybrid linguistic and legal environment; Carmeneza examines who women are in local or community driven development programs; Marie interrogates the tension of education rhetoric between the needs of Timorese communities as well as the globalized opportunity in curriculum reform; Laurentina unpacks the local perceptions of Chinese presence at state and non-state levels in an interactive and dynamic Sino-Timor developmental process.