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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.


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