Critics of the liberal peace paradigm call for the consideration of local realities in order to come to a more sustainable, comprehensive form of peace–which is not imposed by external actors. The “local” is generally seen as the place where bottom-up or grassroots peace is developed in contrast to the liberal peace proposed by external international agents. Whereas critical peacebuilding literature stresses the difference between the “liberal” and the “local” and acknowledges the incoherence of liberal actors, much less attention has been paid to differences and variations within the “local” sphere. Drawing on empirical research in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) we argue that the “local” is much more complex than presumed by many critics of the liberal peace. We argue that a) the local is fragmented and actors and issues are highly contested; b) neither actors nor discourses are purely local; and c) the very idea of a coherent collective local agency is contested locally.