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Article

Kathleen Staudt

Although the study of women and gender flourished at intersection of comparative politics (CP) and international relations (IR), mostly international political economy (IPE) and Development Studies, much of IR itself was resistant at its core. Explicitly feminist analysis challenged the core with several decades of research that instructors can incorporate into their classes. The incorporation/transformation challenge can be daunting, however, as publication outlets for research on women, gender, and feminism often remained separate from mainstream journals, with some promising exceptions. These separate tracks are now changing, but instructors still need to check multiple places to prepare for courses and identify good assignments. And although IR feminists seek interaction with the IR core, the core IR theorists are wedded to frameworks associated with realism, liberalism, Marxism, and others, or to positivist, quantitative methodologies that may rely on flawed and male-centric databases rather than grounded field research. A major challenge in the next 40 years involves growing the interactions among bordered subfields; analyzing the intersections of gender, race/ethnicity, class, and nationality; and engaging with southern voices outside the US and Western-centric IR field. In this vein, the classroom is a major arena in which critical thinking, contestation, new research, and action agendas emerge.

Article

Feminist and gendered interventions in the discipline of international political economy (IPE) traces the constitutive and causal role that gender plays in the diverse forms, functions, and impacts of the global political economy (GPE). There are subtle distinctions between “feminist” and “gendered” political economy. The term “feminist IPE” is assigned only to those scholars who identify directly with feminism and label themselves feminist. “Gendered IPE” includes feminist IPE, but also incorporates those analyses not necessarily centered on women’s work, their practices, and their experiences. Whether understood empirically or analytically, increased references to “gender” in IPE invariably resulted from the extensive, varied, and challenging feminist theorizing that had made visible the neglect of sex and gender in IPE. Indeed, gendered IPE scholarship is dedicated to transforming knowledge through committed gender analysis of the global political economy, deploying “gender” as a central organizing principle in social, cultural, political, and economic life. A relatively recent theoretical turn in gendered political economy thoroughly highlights the problems involved when gender is entirely associated with the body as a mark of human identity. Contemporary gendered IPE covers the variety of ways in which analysis of a person’s sex is simply not enough to describe their experiences. Indeed, ongoing feminist and gendered IPE concerns generally focus on the marginalization of gender analysis in IPE. Meanwhile, promising avenues in gendered IPE include gender and sexuality in IPE, as well as gender and the “Illicit International Political Economy” (IIPE).

Article

Merje Kuus

Critical geopolitics is concerned with the geographical assumptions and designations that underlie the making of world politics. The goal of critical geopolitics is to elucidate and explain how political actors spatialize international politics and represent it as a “world” characterized by particular types of places. Eschewing the traditional question of how geography does or can influence politics, critical geopolitics foregrounds “the politics of the geographical specification of politics.” By questioning the assumptions that underpin geopolitical claims, critical geopolitics has evolved from its roots in the poststructuralist, feminist, and postcolonial critique of traditional geopolitics into a major subfield of mainstream human geography. This essay shows that much of critical geopolitics problematizes the statist conceptions of power in social sciences, a conceptualization that John Agnew has called the “territorial trap.” Along with political geography more generally, critical geopolitics argues that spatiality is not confined to territoriality. The discursive construction of social reality is shaped by specific political agents, including intellectuals of statecraft. In addition to the scholarship that draws empirically on the rhetorical strategies of intellectuals of statecraft, there is also a rich body of work on popular geopolitics, and more specifically on resistance geopolitics or anti-geopolitics. Another emerging field of inquiry within critical geopolitics is feminist geopolitics, which shifts the focus from the operations of elite agents to the constructions of political subjects in everyday political practice. Clearly, the heterogeneity of critical geopolitics is central to its vibrancy and success.

Article

Feminist Gramscian international political economy (IPE) is an interdisciplinary intellectual project that has focused both on theoretical and empirical analysis of women and gender within the field. Feminist Gramscian IPE emerged from the confluence of an eclectic body of work over the last several years encompassing fields as disparate as international relations, IPE, feminist economics, the literature on gender and development, and feminist literature on globalization. As with feminist perspectives in other disciplinary fields, Gramscian feminists have largely embraced postpositivist, interpretivist, and relational analysis while trying to maintain the emancipatory potential of their work for women the world over. Current Gramscian feminist analyses are firmly grounded and draw from early Marxist/Socialist feminist interventions. They have also engaged with the three major categories of analysis in Gramscian thought—ideas, material capabilities, and institutions—in order to understand hegemonic processes that function to (re)construct and (re)produce both gendered categories of analysis and practice. Feminist revisions of Gramscian IPE have focused on international institutions, rules and norms, while simultaneously shedding light on contemporary states and how they are being transformed in this current phase of globalization. Three central tasks that feminist Gramscian scholars may consider in future research are: to be more engaged with the notion of hegemony, to revisit the political methodology employed by many feminist Gramscian analyses, and to devote more attention to non-mainstream perspectives.

Article

Valerie Hudson, R. Charli Carpenter, and Mary Caprioli

It is not only gender ambiguity that is securitized in the international arena, but femininity as well. Some scholars argue that conflict over what women are and what they should do is characterized as a risk to national/global security. Meanwhile, there are those who would characterize gender as irrelevant to, or is one of many variables, in thinking about “security.” Feminist international relations (IR) scholars, however, have argued that gender is across all areas of international security, and that gender analysis is transformative of security studies. A redefinition of security in feminist terms that reveals gender as a factor at play can uncover uncomfortable truths about the reality of this world; how the “myth of protection” is a lie used to legitimize war; and how discourse in international politics is constructed of dichotomies and that their deconstruction could lead to benefits for the human race. Feminist work asserts that it is inadequate to define, analyze, or account for security without reference to gender subordination, particularly, the dichotomy of the domination/subordination concept of power. Gender subordination can be found in military training routines that refer to underperforming men as “girls,” or in the use of rape and forced impregnation as weapons of war. It is the traditional sense of “power as dominance” that leads to situations such as the security dilemma.

Article

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.

Article

The field of gender and environmental studies deals with the ways that gender roles shape the access to and management of resources. From being dominated by old debates on whether the earth is our mother goddess or whether women are inherently closer to nature than men, gender and environmental studies has evolved into a largely activist-informed and materially-focused discipline. Feminist perspectives are now being articulated in a variety of wide-ranging themes and issues such as environmental justice, global climate change, population debates, disasters, water, and militarization. The main feminist perspectives for studying women and the environment can be divided into two “umbrella” groups: the “ecofeminist” camp and the “materialist” camp. The ecofeminist group argues that there is an “innate” connection between domination of nature and the oppression of women and that there exists a system of patriarchy in human society that leads to the domination of the “Other.” The materialist camp rejects this claim. It makes use of two approaches, feminist environmentalism and Feminist Political Ecology (FPE), to contend that women’s oppression is rooted in structural and material inequalities. Some of these feminist perspectives, including ecofeminism and feminist environmentalism, are applied by the field of Gender, Environment, and Development (GED) to the environmental policy domain. Three transnational environmental organizations doing GED work are GenderCC—Women for Climate Justice, Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), and Development Alternatives for Women in a New Era (DAWN).

Article

Women’s activism has assumed an international dimension beginning in the nineteenth century. Transnational feminism has been shaped by debates over a wide range of issues: how to name and describe feminist inspired action that crosses national borders; how to create organizations, networks, and movements that acknowledge the multiple power differentials that exist among women while still allowing for concerted political action; and how to craft effective mobilization strategies in the face of highly differing forms of activism. These debates have fueled a surge in scholarly interest in the transnational activities of feminist groups, transforming the ways in which women’s studies, political science, international relations, sociology, and geography investigate the relationships between national and international levels of politics. The scholarship on transnational feminist actions has been influenced in large part by the concept of transnational advocacy networks/transnational feminist networks, which often bring together multiple kinds of actors such as social movements, international nongovernmental organizations, and more nationally or locally based actors. Another issue tackled by scholars who are politically committed to the goals of transnational feminist activism is how feminists are likely to achieve their goals and produce change through their transnational activities. These scholars can be expected to continue to develop their own research agendas on transnational feminist activism and to influence how transnational politics and globalization are studied in other fields.

Article

Angela B. McCracken

Feminist scholarship has contributed to the conceptual development of globalization by including more than merely the expansion and integration of global markets. Feminist perspectives on globalization are necessarily interdisciplinary; their definitions and what they bring to discussions of globalization are naturally shaped by differing disciplinary commitments. In the fields of International Relations (IR) and International Political Economy (IPE), feminists offer four major contributions to globalization scholarship: they bring into relief the experiences and agency of women and other marginalized subjects within processes of globalization; they highlight the gendered aspects of the processes of globalization; they offer critical insights into non-gender-sensitive globalization discourses and scholarship; they propose new ways of conceiving of globalization and its effects that make visible women, women’s agency, and gendered power relations. The feminist literature on globalization, however, is extensively interdisciplinary in nature rather than monolithic or unified. The very definition of key concepts such as globalization, gender, and feminism are not static within the literature. On the contrary, the understanding of these terms and the evolution of their conceptual meanings are central to the development of the literature on globalization through feminist perspectives. There are at least four areas of feminist scholarship on globalization that are in the early stages of development and deserve further attention: the intersection between men/masculinities and globalization; the effects of globalization on women privileged by race, class, and/or nation; the gendered aspects of the globalization of media and signs; and the need for feminists to continue undertaking empirical research.

Article

Soumita Basu

After the end of World War II, women’s rights advocates at the United Nations vigorously campaigned for equality between the sexes. At the UN Charter Conference held in San Francisco in 1945, women delegates fought for the recognition of sex-based discrimination as a violation of human rights in Article 1 of the Charter. At the UN, issues relating to women were primarily placed under the purview of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), established in June 1946 with the mandate to “prepare recommendations and report to the Economic and Social Council on promoting women’s rights in political, economic, civil, social and educational fields.” Three main perspectives underpin feminist International Relations (IR) literature on the UN, gender and women: promoting women’s participation and inclusion of women’s issues at the UN; gender critique of the UN, geared towards institutional transformation; and challenging the universality of the UN. Despite some fundamental differences between these three strands of thinking, their political significance is widely acknowledged in the literature. The co-existence of these contentious viewpoints resonates with the vibrant feminist politics at the UN, and offers a fruitful avenue for envisioning a better intergovernmental organization. This is particularly relevant in light of feminist scholars’ engagement with activism and policymaking at the UN from the very beginning. Nevertheless, there are issues that deserve further consideration, such as the workings of the UN, as reflected in its unique diplomatic characteristics and bureaucratic practices.