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Monthly Archives: January 2018

Masculinity nostalgia: How war and occupation inspire a yearning for gender order

by Megan MacKenzie and Alana Foster. Security Dialogue Vol 48, Issue 3, 2017

Read full article here.

This article investigates how war and occupation disrupt and produce new gender norms. It explores civilian masculinities and the ways in which masculinities are impacted by conflict and insecurity. Focusing on the West Bank, we argue that insecurity and occupation create the conditions for masculinity nostalgia, or a yearning for a set of gender norms and relations linked to fantasies of a secure, ‘traditional’ and ordered past. Masculinity nostalgia builds on conceptions of thwarted masculinity and the ways in which individuals are held accountable to gender norms. The article draws on interviews with Palestinians to highlight how masculinity nostalgia is associated with three particular identities: father, breadwinner and landowner. We demonstrate that Palestinian civilians lament the ways in which the occupation has impacted men’s ability to fulfil such archetypical identities, at the same time as they reaffirm the value and legitimacy of these identities. We argue that peace and security are often assumed to be dependent upon ‘the return’ of men to their presumed rightful places at the head of households and as economic providers. In turn, masculinity nostalgia emphasizes the ways in which yearnings for peace and security can be interwoven with yearnings for patriarchal gendered orders.

Disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration and the poetics of slavery in Sierra Leone

In Women, Gender Equality, and Post-Conflict Transformation: lessons learned, implications for the future  edited by Joyce P. Kaufman, Kristen P. Williams.

It’s been ten years since I went to Sierra Leone to ask women about their experiences as combatants and their impressions of the reintegration process post-conflict. My book, Female Soldiers in Sierra Leone: Sex, Security and Post-Conflict Development,1 draws conclusions that cut across feminist international relations, security studies, and development studies. This work built on the body of literature examining women’s experiences of war and the challenges and insecurities that they face in the post-conflict era.2 While there remain conclusions and interventions from this work that I believe are still relevant and important, almost a decade later, I feel an intense frustration with the “state” of the debates surrounding women, girls, and DDR.

Gender and Post-Conflict Reconstruction

The study of women, gender and security in post-conflict environments has been a long-term and ongoing focus. Research in this area began with a project examining the experiences of female combatants in Sierra Leone’s civil war, and the challenges they face reintegrating into society post-conflict. Subsequent sub-projects have included attention to the gendered nature of peace-keeping and police-keeping in Timor Leste, peace-keeper masculinities in Palestine, the role of amnesty in peace agreements, the types of methods used to measure truth and reconciliation, and the ties between colonial logic and post-conflict reintegration rhetoric. There are several future projects planned within this theme, including follow-up research with female combatants in Sierra Leone, which will interrogate the concept of ‘reintegration’ and consider the long-term ‘impacts’ of war for women.

Images and International Relations

This is a 4.5-year research project, led by Professor Lene Hansen at the University of Copenhagen, examining the role images play in world politics. My specific role is to consider how the gendered aspects of security images (for example, the Abu Ghraib images) in world politics and how this may impact our understanding of world events. I am currently working on a paper examining how male soldiers were represented in images over the course of the Iraq war. To read more about the project click here.

Military Gender Integration

This project is a comparative analysis of four countries that have removed the exclusion for women: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States. It is currently funded by the Australian Research Council. The project examines the politics behind the decision to remove the combat ban, assesses what each country was hoping to achieve with the policy change, and evaluates the impacts of the policy change in terms of gender integration. This project is being extended to include an analysis of the politics of military sexual violence in these case countries.

Military Suicide

Despite increased attention to military suicide rates from policy makers and the media, there seems to be a disconnect between available medical research on military suicide, and media and policy framing of military suicide. Put simply, there is a persistent myth that soldiers become vulnerable to suicide primarily when they are exposed to combat and military operations. This project is a comparative analysis that focuses on military suicide in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. This project will be the first comparative analysis of military suicide rates that focuses on media representations, policy responses, and medical data. The project will make medical data on military suicide accessible to policy makers, the media, and the public; this will help bridge the existing gap between political and medical discussions on military suicide. This project is currently funded through the Multidisciplinary Arts and Social Sciences Inaugural Fellowship, University of Sydney.

How a special forces ‘band of brothers’ culture leads to civilian deaths in war.

July 2017 Conversation article. Click here.

Foreign Affairs Review of MacKenzie’s Beyond the Band of Brothers

C-Span Coverage

MacKenzie on expert panel discussing women and camaraderie.

To view video, click here.