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A constant source of concern for feminists working in International Relations (IR) has been the field’s implied or stated boundaries. During the first ten years of its existence (roughly covering the years 1985–1995), the main goal of feminist IR was to challenge a caged-in knowledge realm that excluded more phenomena than it promised to seek. By the early twenty-first century, IR had devolved into a camp structure that was able to accommodate on the inside all manner of theories, people, and places. Yet while feminism contributed to troubled boundaries of IR, it did so against the backdrop of internal boundary dilemmas of inside and outside, good women/bad women, authentic versus dominant voice, gender versus feminism, and so on. Today, feminist IR is somewhat different from its earlier orientations. It now draws heavily on postmodern thinking about margins, multiple truths, subjugated identities and discourses, and power in general, and takes on IR theory and methodology using insights from postmodern thinking and other disciplines such as anthropology and geography. Feminist IR continues to bring new locations of the international and relations to the fore. Two such areas deal with the subject of violent women in international relations and the urgencies of development around the world.
Brooke Ackerly and Ying Zhang
The study of feminist ethics in international relations (IR) is the study of three topics. The first is the feminist contributions to key topics in international ethics and the research agenda that continues to further that enterprise. Feminists have made important contributions to IR thought on central ethical concepts. They rethink these concepts from the perspective of their impact on women, deconstruct the dichotomies of the concepts and their constituent parts, and reconsider how the field should be studied. Next, there is the feminist engagement with the epistemological construction of the discipline of IR itself, by which feminists make the construction of the field itself a normative subject. Finally, there is the feminist methodological contribution of a “meta-methodology”—a research ethic applicable in the research of all questions and able to improve the research practice of all methodologists. The contention here is that ethical IR research must be responsive to the injustices of the world, hence feminists have also explored the connections between scholarship and activism. And this in turn has meant exploring methodologies such as participatory action research that engages one with the political impact of research and methods. Furthermore, contemporary challenges related to climate, globalization, shifts in people, and shifts in global governance are encouraging feminists to work from multiple theoretical perspectives and to triangulate across multiple methods and questions, in order to contribute to our understanding of global problems and the politics of addressing them.
Laura J. Shepherd
In challenging conventional conceptualizations of the human subject, the state, and the international system, early feminist security studies (FSS) offered new ways to think about security from inside and outside the disciplinary boundaries of international relations (IR). Indeed, FSS scholars illustrate that security not only means different things in different contexts but also functions in different ways to constitute particular social/political realities. Politicizing the everyday, or rather, demanding that the everyday be recognized as political, is a core assumption of FSS. Further contributions of early FSS to the replacement of the human subject in matters of security include a form of engagement with the very language used in speaking of security matters. Moreover, FSS scholars argue that insecurities permeate the very condition of human existence, bringing FSS insights to bear on economic processes, technological development, state building, and reconstruction. Ranging from analysis of violent conflict and political violence using a gendered framework to critiques of the policies and practices governing post-conflict reconstruction, and encompassing strong and vital interjections on debates over securitizing development, migration, health, human rights, and peace, FSS scholarship is accessible, innovative, and by no means limited to “women and war.” Relocating FSS scholarship from the margins to the center and listening to the voices of those human subjects erased from the academic study of security brings new challenges but also new opportunities for collaboration, with the sighting and citing of FSS by other critical scholars.
Jillian Martin and Laura Sjoberg
The question “where are the women?” essentially underlies feminist international relations (IR). During the late 1980s and early 1990s, feminist scholars critiqued mainstream IR theories (i.e., realism, liberalism) and argued that there is a masculinist bias in the field, and that IR’s omission of gender in their analysis is problematic. The issue marks the starting point for scholarship on women and international relations. As the scholarship continued to evolve, so too did different feminist approaches to security (including liberal, critical, constructivist, post-colonial, and post-structural approaches). In utilizing a gender analysis, feminist scholars increasingly focused on security broadly defined, leading to the emergence of feminist security studies (FSS). Feminist security studies has become a vibrant field that produces innovative and timely research on issues of war, peace, security, conflict, and much more. While feminist work in these fields has a long and rich history, feminist security studies as a distinct and established field of study is still expanding within international relations and security studies. Feminist security scholars encourage people to reconsider what it is that the current security politics are truly serving to secure. By focusing on human rights, such as food security or protection of reproductive and sexual rights, feminists turn the traditional paradigm of security politics into a politics serving citizens rather than governments, corporations, or politicians.
Anna M. Agathangelou and Heather M. Turcotte
Feminist international relations (IR) theories have long provided interventions and insights into the embedded asymmetrical gender relations of global politics, particularly in areas such as security, state-nationalism, rights–citizenship, and global political economies. Yet despite the histories of struggle to increase attention to gender analysis, and women in particular, within world politics, IR knowledge and practice continues to segregate gendered and feminist analyses as if they are outside its own formation. IR as a field, discipline, and site of contestation of power has been one of the last fields to open up to gender and feminist analyses. One reason for this is the link between social science and international institutions like the United Nations, and its dominant role in the formation of foreign policy. Raising the inferior status of feminism within IR, that is, making possible the mainstreaming of gender and feminism, will require multiple centers of power and multiple marginalities. However, these institutional struggles for recognition through exclusion may themselves perpetuate similar exploitative relationships of drawing boundaries around legitimate academic and other institutional orders. In engaging, listening and writing these struggles, it is important to recognize that feminisms, feminist IR, and IR are intimately linked through disciplinary struggles and larger geopolitical struggles of world affairs and thus necessitate knowledge terrains attentive to intersectional and oppositional gendered struggles (i.e., race, sexuality, nation, class, religion, and gender itself).
Christopher B. Barrett and Erin C. Lentz
Food plays an essential role in performance and well-being. Apart from its physiological necessity, food is also a source of pleasure. Since both biological needs for food and psychic satisfaction from food vary considerably among and within populations, coming up with precise, operationalizable measures of food security have proved problematic. Furthermore, the concept of food security encompasses not only current nutritional status but also vulnerability to future disruptions in one’s access to adequate and appropriate food. The complexity of the concept of food security has given rise to scores, if not hundreds, of different definitions of the term “food security.” As a result, there have also been variations in thinking about the proximate manifestations and direct and indirect causes and consequences of “food insecurity,” the complement to “food security.” Food security is commonly conceptualized as resting on three pillars that are inherently hierarchical: availability, access, and utilization. Some agencies, such as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), have added a fourth dimension: stability. Food insecurity is often used interchangeably with the terms “hunger,” “undernutrition,” and “malnutrition.” Threats to food insecurity may be classified as either “covariate” or “idiosyncratic.” Based on these threats, various interventions have been implemented to promote food security by means of increasing availability (improving agricultural productivity), promoting access (economic growth and assistance programs such as food stamps or vouchers, food aid delivery, food banks, school lunch programs), or improving utilization (supplementary feeding programs, therapeutic feeding programs).
Nadine El-Enany and Eiko R. Thielemann
Forced migrations, as well as the related issues of refugees and asylum, profoundly impact the relationship between the countries of origin and the countries of destination. Traditionally, the essential quality of a refugee was seen to be their presence outside of their own country as a result of political persecution. However, the historical evolution of the definition of a refugee has gradually become more restricted and defined. Commentators have challenged the current refugee protection regime along two principal lines. The first is idealist in nature and entails the argument that the refugee definition as contained in the 1951 Refugee Convention is not sufficiently broad and thus fails to protect all those individuals deserving of protection. The second line of argument is a realist one, taking a more pragmatic approach in addressing the insufficiencies of the Convention. Its advocates emphasize the importance of making refugee protection requirements more palatable to states, the actors upon which we rely to provide refugees with protection. With regard to the question of how to design more effective burden-sharing institutions, the literature has traditionally focused on finding ways to equalize refugee responsibilities directly by seeking to equalize the number of asylum seekers and refugees that states have to deal with.
Bruce Bueno de Mesquita
Since the end of World War II, foreign policy thinking has been dominated by a realist (or neorealist) perspective in which states are taken as the relevant unit of analysis. The focus on states as the central actors in international politics leads to the view that what happens within states is of little consequence for understanding what happens between states. However, state-centric, unitary rational actor theories fail to explain perhaps the most significant empirical discovery in international relations over the past several decades. That is the widely accepted observation that democracies tend not to fight wars with one another even though they are not especially reluctant to fight with autocratic regimes. By looking within states at their domestic politics and institutionally induced behavior, the political economy perspective provides explanations of the democratic peace and associated empirical regularities while offering a cautionary tale for those who leap too easily to the inference that since pairs of democracies tend to interact peacefully; therefore it follows that they have strong normative incentives to promote democratic reform around the world. Rational choices approaches have also helped elucidate new insights that contribute to our understanding of foreign policy. Some of these new insights and the tools of analysis from which they are derived have significantly contributed to the actual decision making process.
A country’s foreign policy, also called its foreign relations, consists of self-interest strategies chosen by the state to safeguard its national interests and to achieve goals within its international relations (IR) milieu. The study of such strategic plans is called foreign policy analysis (FPA). The inception of foreign relations in human affairs and the need for foreign policy to deal with them is as old as the organization of human life in groups. In the twentieth century, due to global wars, international relations became a public concern as well as an important field of study and research. Gradually, various theories began to grow around international relations, international systems, and international politics, but the need for a theory of foreign policy continued to be neglected. The reason was that states used to keep their foreign policies under official secrecy and it was not considered appropriate for the public, as it is today, to know about these policies. However, although foreign policy formulation continued to remain a closely guarded process at the national level, wider access to governmental records and greater public interest provided more data for researchers to work on and, eventually, place international relations in a structured framework of political science.
Paul A. Kowert
Foreign policy analysis benefits from careful attention to state identity. After all, identity defines the field itself by making it possible to speak both of policies and of a domain that is foreign. For some scholars, identity has proven useful as a guide to agency and, in particular, to agent preferences. For others, identity has served as a guide to social or institutional structure. Theories of state identity can be divided into three categories: conditions internal to agents, social interactions among agents, and “ecological” encounters with a broader environment. Internal conditions refer to either processes or constraints that operate within the agent under consideration. In the case of the state, these may include domestic politics, the individual characteristics of citizens or other internal actors, and the collective attributes of these citizens or other actors. Although internal causes are not social at the state level, they nevertheless have social implications if they give rise to state identity, and they may themselves be social at a lower level. The social interactions of states themselves constitute a second source of identity, one that treats states as capable of interacting like persons. This approach essentially writes large social and psychological theories, replacing individuals with the state. Finally, the ecological setting or broader environment is a third possible source of identity. The environment may be material, ideational, or discursive, and treated as an objective or a subjective influence.