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CFP: The War Question for Feminism: Gender aspects on militaries, armed conflict and peacekeeping

In Uncategorized on March 28, 2008 at 4:27 am

International Conference
The War Question for Feminism.1
Gender aspects on militaries, armed conflict and peacekeeping

22-23 September, 2008, Örebro University, Sweden
Call for papers

Submission of abstracts: April 15, 2008
Paper submission: September 1, 2008

Convenors are Erika Svedberg from the Institute of Thematic Gender Studies and Örebro University and Annica Kronsell from the Department of Political Science at Lund University. The convenors were part of a group organizing the international conference at Lund University: A World in Transition. Feminist Perspectives on International Relations, in May 1996.2 This conference is a follow-up of that successful event. The War Question for Feminism-conference is organized within the Institute of Thematic Gender Studies a new two-campus milieu for gender research at Linköping University and Örebro University in Sweden, led by Professors Nina Lykke and Anna Jónasdóttir.3.

Theme 1: War as a Feminist Issue
The central argument for this theme is that war is a feminist issue/question. There is a long-standing and historical split within the women’s movement on whether to be pro-nation or pro-peace which seem to have made feminists somewhat uncomfortable with the war question. War is a feminist concern because conflict relations between states or organized groups affect women as well as men, violence used in violent conflict is often sexualized and because militaries and arms is a substantial part of public resource spending. If there would ever be a truly feminist state, would this state have a military organization? Would it have an army, weapon production and military spending? War is an economic issue and feminist researchers should not ignore the military/defense budget as part of the (welfare) state budget? Arms production and trade is also connected to military budgets and what would a feminist analysis of the arms trade come up with? The means used in the waging of contemporary wars – like rape, forced prostitution and other forms of sexual violence seem to be an integral part of the organized forms of violence. It shows that the means used in war-making are gendered. The trend for some militaries of western democratic states is to engage in the war on terror while another trend is to move much more into international peace-enforcement and peace-keeping. Is the trend to train militaries for peace-keeping tasks a way to de-militarize the military? Are the efforts of gender mainstreaming peace-keeping a way to feminize the military?

Theme 2: Militarism and Masculinities
This theme takes the starting point in that the military organization historically has been exclusively male and part of nation building, in relation to state militaries or to resistances like guerrilla, insurgency warfare. Nation building is highly interconnected with militaries with conscription as an illustrative example. Norms relevant for military practice like hierarchy, group cohesion and organized violence as problem solving, have been tied to norms of heterosexual masculinity. How is masculinity related to the task of the military organization? What is the relationship between masculinity and the role of the warrior, in the ‘war on terror’ militaries, insurgency, and guerrillas or in peacekeeping? Are UN peace-keepers real men or ‘sissies in arms’? Sexuality has been an integral aspect of the military organization with the wide use of pornographic material, sexualized language, sexual harassment within bases and prostitution as well as rape near military bases. As we are seeing sexualized violence in war being used against both civilians and soldiers as part of strategic warfare we might ask; what is the relationship between patriarchy, militarism and misogyny in different contexts in contemporary warfare?

What does this tell us about the relationship between military violence and sexuality? Can the military be democratized? Is it possible to think of a military where men and women serve side by side as comrades, without sexism? Is it possible to move beyond the heterosexual masculinity norm as an organizing principle of the military?

Theme 3: Feminist concepts travelling into the area of security, the military, violent conflicts and peacekeeping operations
The focus of this theme is on travelling concepts. The idea of travelling concepts was developed in the Women’s Studies/Gender Studies project Athena with the aim of considering how concepts introduced and developed by feminist scholars are used for particularly educational but also research purposes in different European contexts. A central question is how feminist concepts may be translated across linguistic and cultural barriers while still conveying the same meaning. What happens when concepts travel? When feminist concepts are put into practice, do they acquire new meanings? When new meanings develop, how can they be understood? What does it tell us about the context in which they are being used? In this theme we are particularly concerned with the translation and implementation of feminist concepts into political, policy and administrative settings. Central questions are how have, for example, the concepts of gender/gender mainstreaming/gender perspectives been used or put into practice in security, defense and military understandings and settings. One example here is the UN Security Council Resolution 1325. We want to look at how concepts from feminist research and activism travel from one setting to for example different national settings of security policy and military strategy.

We welcome abstracts of no more than 300 words addressing one of the three themes of the conference. Please send it to the conference organizers: and

no later than April 15, 2008.

Submission of abstracts: April 15, 2008
Paper submission: September 1, 2008

1 This title was inspired by the work of Christine Sylvester.

2 A selection of papers and summeries of workshop discussions were published as a special edition of Statsvetenskaplig Tidskrift, 1997.

3 It is connected with GEXcel – Gendering Excellence (, a five-years Visiting Fellows Programme which started in 2007 supported by a grant from the Swedish Research Council. GEXcel gathers prominent senior as well as younger scholars from all over the world.


In Uncategorized on March 25, 2008 at 9:04 pm

Date: 25 March 2008

Auckland 8am: Australia could be offering work visas for Pacific Island people living in the island nations, as part of a new strategy to improve relations with the region.

The Australian government has also been told by an Australian Strategic Policy Institute task force that they should recruit soldiers from the Pacific, as Britain currently does with Fijians.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd pledged to work closely with New Zealand on Pacific issues when he met with Helen Clark for their first official talks.

And he move to allow seasonal worker visas, which have been rejected by Canberra for a number of years, may follow New Zealand’s lead with the successful RSE scheme run here.

From Babylon with love

In Uncategorized on March 18, 2008 at 9:10 pm

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

IF Lance Corporal Linny Savu had not joined the British Army she would still be looking after her brothers and sisters in Fiji.

And she would be planting food for the family to make ends meet.

But those struggling days when she doubled as a student while looking after her siblings helped her on the road to the British Army. She had to do the work because her father had to look for odd jobs while her mother was the sole breadwinner.

As a Lance Corporal she is in charge of a batch of soldiers, mostly men.

Today, the Suva-born British Army relates her story from war-torn Iraq.

“I am the eldest of two brothers and a sister,” she said. “In those days my mother was the only one working while my dad was in between jobs.

“My brothers and sister have been fortunate, nevertheless, and were always able to get what we needed from our parents.

“My mother relied on me to look after my brothers and sisters. The work included taking them to school everyday and bringing them home.

“We often helped our father in the garden as the price of food could be expensive at times.

“As I grew older, I moved on to tertiary education but it was hard getting a job after that so I stayed home and helped around.”

Lcpl Savu said her parents came up with the idea of joining the British Army as some of her friends had done. I applied and the Army replied with DVDs and leaflets of what to expect.

“I flew to the UK on November 21, 2001 and it was sad because it was the first time I left my family.

“My uncle who was living in London that time told me to pack warm clothes as it is cold in England and he was right, it was absolutely freezing!

“The first few days were really tiring as I tried to get into a normal sleep routine but gradually I got used to the food and importantly, tried not to think of the cold too much.

“Three weeks after settling in the UK, I went to the Army careers office at the Strand and met the person I had written to when applying from Fiji. I attended some interviews, did a BARB test and before I knew it, I was loaded to start basic training.

“I had, during my first weeks in London, done some training to prepare for the selection. I joined one of my cousins who was doing her basic training at Pirbright. We usually ran along the Thames crossing the two bridges Lambeth and Vauxhaull.

“We often got funny looks from bystanders as we were running in shorts and T-shirts.” She said St Paul’s Cathedral is one of her favourite sights in London.

Her first Christmas away from home was tough as she missed Fijian food and sharing it with families and relatives. “Soon, I started getting used to turkey and all the trimmings that was in front of me on the table on Christmas Day, 2001.

“I started basic training at Bassingbourn and moved to Winchester to complete the rest of the course. The first few weeks was hectic but I got used to it as we marched off the square in August 2003.

“That was the happiest day of my life and I felt as though I had achieved something. After basic training, I went straight to phase two training at Worthy Down to complete the nine weeks course to become a Military Clerk.

“I still remember seeing snow for the first time. The guys in my class could not believe that we do not have snow in Fiji.

“After phase two, I was posted to 47 Regiment Royal Artillery.

“I only spent two weeks in the Unit before flying out to Cyprus for a six-month operational tour.

“I got thrown into the deep end but learned very quickly as a result of the pressure to do well on my first tour.”

After Cyprus, she came home for leave and was thrilled to see and meet her family again.

“Unfortunately, the time came for me to go back and it was sad saying goodbye.

“In 2005 I was attached to another unit, 10 Battery, 1 Royal Horse Artillery, for another UN tour of Cyprus.

“In November 2006 after I had my first child, I was posted to 3 (UK) Division & Signal Regiment in Bulford. I was posted as a brand new Lance Corporal, a new challenge and a lot more expected of me. We supported a lot of exercises during that first year.

“Then a trawl (search) came through looking for volunteers to go to Iraq in November 2007.

“I decided to go for it as it would be my first tour to Iraq. I spoke about it to my husband and he supported my decision. The only down side was that I needed to take our little girl to Fiji before I could deploy.

“I knew she would be well looked after back home.

“I deployed on OP TELIC 11 in Iraq on the November 12, 2007 thinking it would be a completely different experience.

“For the first few weeks it was busy, meeting new people and adjusting to strange ways of life.

“I quickly got used to it and now we are already halfway through our six-month tour and I cannot wait to get home to see everyone again.”

Looking back over her past five years in the British Army, she felt as if she had achieved some personal and career goals she never dreamt of achieving.

“I have a wonderful husband, a beautiful family to support and am looking forward to a long and fulfilling career in the Armed Forces.”

Condoleezza Rice praises Fiji activist

In Uncategorized on March 12, 2008 at 9:10 pm
March 12, 2008 – 11:06AM

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has delivered a slap in the face to Fiji’s military, awarding a medal for courage to an activist beaten by soldiers.Fiji activist and former journalist Virisila Buadromo was given the International Women of Courage Award at a ceremony in Washington on Monday.

Buadromo runs the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement and was one of only eight women worldwide who were honoured for their courageous work by Rice, and the only one from the Asia Pacific area.

The activist was among a group of six people critical of the military coup who claimed they were taken by soldiers from their homes on Christmas Eve to barracks where they endured days of abuse.

Fiji’s military leader and self-appointed prime minister Frank Bainimarama has consistently denied human rights abuses in his country have been widespread since the coup.

But Rice said Buadromo “endured days of horrific abuse” in military barracks, followed by a two-month travel ban.

She praised Buadromo as a strong grassroots advocate for women’s development and human rights.

“It is a privilege to bestow the Secretary of State’s Award for International Women of Courage to Ms Virisila Buadromo,” Rice said at the awards ceremony.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said Buadromo and five others were beaten by military officials following the military coup.

“At least two were hit in the face in the course of their questioning, and one required a neck brace following her release. Another suffered a broken leg and broken ribs.

“Early the following morning, they were forced to run 10km in the rain to Lami, where they were made to dismantle pro-democracy banners,” HRW said in a statement last year.

© 2008 AAP