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Sites of Violence

Sites of Violence: Gender and Conflict Zones

Wenona Giles
Jennifer Hyndman
Copyright Date: 2004
Edition: 1
Pages: 373
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  • Book Info
    Sites of Violence
    Book Description:

    In conflict zones from Iraq and Afghanistan to Guatemala and Somalia, the rules of war are changing dramatically. Distinctions between battlefield and home, soldier and civilian, state security and domestic security are breaking down. In this especially timely book, a powerful group of international authors doing feminist research brings the highly gendered and racialized dimensions of these changes into sharp relief. In essays on nationalism, the political economy of conflict, and the politics of asylum, they investigate what happens when the body, household, nation, state, and economy become sites at which violence is invoked against people. In particular, these hard-hitting essays move us forward in our understanding of violence against women—how it is perpetrated, survived, and resisted. They explore the gendered politics of ethno-nationalism in Sri Lanka, the post-Yugoslav states, and Israel and Palestine. They consider "honor killings" in Iraqi Kurdistan, armed conflict in the Sudan, and geographies of violence in Ghana. This volume augments feminist analysis on conflict zones and contributes to transnational coalition-building and feminist organizing.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93705-5
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)

    • 1 Introduction: Gender and Conflict in a Global Context
      (pp. 3-23)
      Wenona Giles and Jennifer Hyndman

      The events and aftermath of September 11 ineluctably dissolved the already precarious distinction between domestic sovereign space and more global space where transnational networks, international relations, multilateral institutions, and global corporations operate. Feminists have long argued that private/public distinctions serve to depoliticize the private domestic spaces of “home” compared to more public domains. The attacks have exposed the limits of understanding the United States as a “domestic” space, somehow bounded and separated from the processes and politics of economic, cultural, and political integration. Likewise, boundaries between combatants and civilians, battlefronts and civilian spaces, cease to have much meaning in light...

    • 2 The Continuum of Violence: A Gender Perspective on War and Peace
      (pp. 24-44)
      Cynthia Cockburn

      The Women in Conflict Zones Network, an international network of researchers, has generated empirical material and analyses from many regions and countries afflicted by war. The title of our group indicates a concern with women, and it has meant in practice both that the women we have studied have been situated in places of conflict and that many of us researchers live in such places. The wordwomenin relation toconflictperhaps prompts a picture of passivity, of those who are injured, abused, and displaced. But what has emerged from our research and networking is not a victimology of...

    • 3 The Sounds of Silence: Feminist Research across Time in Guatemala
      (pp. 45-72)
      Cathy Blacklock and Alison Crosby

      Decades of militarization and war created a profound culture of silence in Guatemala. Violent repression in varying degrees of intensity was used by the state between 1954 and 1996 to silence political challenges to military dictatorship. However, silence was also used by organizations representing civil society, and in particular the popular and guerrilla movements, as a strategy of resistance to the militarized state. Many subversive voices and practices of resistance named, identified, and remembered the causes and consequences of the violence. And this resistance has had deep historical roots. Dating back at least to the time of Conquest, Guatemalan indigenous...


    • 4 Like Oil and Water, with a Match: Militarized Commerce, Armed Conflict, and Human Security in Sudan
      (pp. 75-107)
      Audrey Macklin

      The growing body of feminist literature on women in conflict zones powerfully exposes and theorizes the ways in which war is gendered in its discourse, its institutions, its execution, its agents, and the damage it inflicts. A diverse collection of scholarship also documents the gendered impact of economic globalization, including restructuring, free trade, and the international division of labor. This feminist research challenges women living within zones of relative peace and economic prosperity to contemplate their location in the matrices of globalization, patriarchy, and colonialism and to ask whether and how one can build feminist alliances across these devides.


    • 5 No “Safe Haven”: Violence against Women in Iraqi Kurdistan
      (pp. 108-133)
      Shahrzad Mojab

      Violence against women occurs throughout the world. It takes numerous forms depending on the context in which patriarchal gender relations interact with social formations such as culture, religion, class, race, ethnicity, and nationality. Annual reports on the state of women published by the United Nations provide a grim picture of the ubiquity of violence. Our knowledge about the exercise of this form of patriarchal power is growing, and in some countries state and nonstate initiatives against violence have already begun.

      Violence against women sometimes takes the form of killing. In the Middle East, for instance, “honor killing” is prevalent. Amnesty...

    • 6 From Pillars of Yugoslavism to Targets of Violence: Interethnic Marriages in the Former Yugoslavia and Thereafter
      (pp. 134-151)
      Mirjana Morokvasic-Müller

      The Yugoslav wars of the 1990s displaced millions of people. Most were obliged to flee persecution within or from the territory of the post-Yugoslav states just because they had a “wrong” name or a “wrong” religion or had married someone from a “wrong” group (see Map 6.1). The absurd idea of ethnically pure states has won, while the idea of life in common, of togetherness, of respect for the “Other,” has become a taboo or considered as a sign of disloyalty. Not only undesirable “Others” but all traces of the “Other,” their material culture—from architecture to literature and history...

    • 7 Geographies of Violence: Women and Conflict in Ghana
      (pp. 152-169)
      Valerie Preston and Madeleine Wong

      Conflict uproots and recasts the lives of millions of men, women, and children. The pain suffered during the immediacy of conflict is often preceded by months and years of growing tension and anxiety. Turmoil continues for many who flee, provoked by fear and sometimes prodded by combatants. For the displaced, sheltered in temporary accommodation, the terror of conflict persists even when they are rehoused and resettled in a new location or after they return to the place that was home. Despite the profoundly geographical nature of conflict in which men, women, and children are displaced, travel long distances, settle in...

    • 8 Gender, the Nationalist Imagination, War, and Peace
      (pp. 170-190)
      Nira Yuval-Davis

      Rumor has it that Enoch Powell, the right-wing maverick British M.P., once defined a “nation” as “two males defending the women and children in a specific territory.” Women and children, or “womenandchildren,” to use Cynthia Enloe’s (1990) expression, and territories are constructed together in nationalist imaginations, as the cause, point of departure, and point of return for men and war. The reason for this division of labor is closely related in the nationalist imagination to the biological differences that exist between the sexes. John Casey (1991) claims: “Males were selected for the role of warriors because the economical and physiological...


    • 9 Refugee Camps as Conflict Zones: The Politics of Gender
      (pp. 193-212)
      Jennifer Hyndman

      Refugee camps can be conflict zones. Sanctioned by the governments who host them and governed by UN agencies, they tend to be temporary cities of sanctuary, often dependent on external economies of international aid. Relations between refugees and the local populations they come to join are fraught with competition for resources, feelings of unfair treatment, and questions about political instability where large numbers of refugees settle. In Kenya’s Northeast Province, where a history of systematic political and economic marginalization includes banditry and sexual assault, widespread insecurity has increased with the temporary settlement of more than 125,000 mainly Somali refugees. Those...

    • 10 The “Purity” of Displacement and the Reterritorialization of Longing: Muslim IDPs in Northwestern Sri Lanka
      (pp. 213-231)
      Malathi de Alwis

      As Chan Kwok Bun (1991) has noted, the refugee camp is “a unique sociopolitical artefact of this century” (284). While several contemporary ethnographies have focused on such camps as technologies of power and sites of transnational displacement (Hitchcox 1990; Malkki 1995a), much less attention has been paid to the phenomenon of displacement and the role of camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in such contexts.¹ In Sri Lanka, for instance, our understanding of the physical topography of the country—a product of colonial knowledge making²—must also now be folded into a topography of violence that has produced “front lines,”...

    • 11 Escaping Conflict: Afghan Women in Transit
      (pp. 232-248)
      Asha Hans

      Nowhere else has a war on women been illustrated so starkly as in Afghanistan. Flagrant abuses of Afghan women’s most basic human rights in the sectors of education, health, and civil and political participation have been widely documented (U.S. Department of State 1999; Amnesty International 1999a, 1995). The Taliban have been the most recent perpetrators of these injustices, but violence against both men and women in Afghanistan has been ongoing for over two decades. The constant condition of war during the last twenty years has adversely affected Afghan women’s lives, forcing millions to leave their homes and seek refuge in...

    • 12 War, Flight, and Exile: Gendered Violence among Refugee Women from Post-Yugoslav States
      (pp. 249-272)
      Maja Korac

      This chapter analyzes changes in the gender roles and responsibilities of refugee women in the post-Yugoslav states that have been caused by their forced displacement. It begins by addressing the “logic” of the exclusionary politics of ethnic nationalism in the region and the social and political implications of women’s forced migration. In documenting the experiences of women whom I interviewed as they became refugees, the chapter examines changes in their roles and social relations caused by the gendered violence of war, flight, and exile. The women are of different ethnic backgrounds and have varied experiences of becoming refugees. Nevertheless, the...

    • 13 The Gendered Impact of Multilateralism in the Post-Yugoslav States: Intervention, Reconstruction, and Globalization
      (pp. 273-298)
      Edith Klein

      Near the end of 1999, an extraordinary event took place: in New York, ten foreign ministers sat down, had dinner together, and discussed affairs of state. Such a meeting of foreign ministers would not have been so remarkable except that all the foreign ministers were women, and the matter of moment was the widespread phenomenon of trafficking in human beings, especially women and children. That evening’s meeting resulted in a letter, signed by all the ministers, calling on the United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan to put the issue on the agenda of the General Assembly (Crossette 1999). This laudable...


    • 14 New Directions for Feminist Research and Politics
      (pp. 301-316)
      Wenona Giles and Jennifer Hyndman

      Politics of globalization, nationalism, and geopolitics create and connect sites of violence beyond the borders of specific communities and countries. These sites are highly gendered, often racialized, and always spatialized. In the introduction to this book, we argued that identifying the gendered antecedents and consequences of conflict is crucial to understanding and preventing conflict at various sites of violence. In this concluding chapter, we return to the question of feminist politics in light of the work presented thus far. Specifically, we examine the role of global connectedness and interdependence in shaping gender politics, especially in the face of conflict and...

    (pp. 317-346)
    (pp. 347-352)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 353-361)