Stay informed: Sign up for eNews Subscribe

Sites of Violence Gender and Conflict Zones

Read the Introduction


Gender and Conflict in a Global Context

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 of 9/11. Such distinctions, however, have long ceased to exist in conflict zones beyond U.S. borders.

Throughout much of the world, war is increasingly waged on the bodies of unarmed civilians. Where it was once the purview of male soldiers who fought enemy forces on battlefields quite separate from people's homes, contemporary conflict blurs such distinctions, rendering civilian women, men, and children its main casualties. The violence of such conflict cannot be isolated from other expressions of violence. In every militarized society, war zone, and refugee camp, violence against women and men is part of a broader continuum of violence that transcends the simple diplomatic dichotomy of war and peace. This continuum of violence resists any division between public and private domains. Battering and wife beating occur in the homes of Canadian soldiers (Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre and Resolve Violence and Abuse Research Centre 2000), while the so-called "honor killing" of female family members continues in Iraqi homes, despite laws to the contrary (see Mojab, Chapter 5 of this volume). While "home" was once demarcated as a "private" space beyond the purview of public responsibility, violence perpetrated at home is increasingly understood as part of broader social, political, and economic processes that are embedded in state policies, public institutions, and the global economy.

This book forges connections between militarized violence that occurs before, during, after, and even in the absence of war. Sites of war and peace are ultimately linked; both can be sites of violence. Explicitly feminist analyses of gender in conflict situations address the politics of social and economic disparities and explore possibilities for changing power imbalances that include gender relations. This book presents original research illustrating feminist analyses grounded in particular conflict zones. Gender relations and identities are (re)produced by governments, militaries, militias, schools, sports, and media. Documenting the panoply of strategies that generate violence against civilian women and men in the name of the nation, the state, the economy, or the family is the first step toward changing these hegemonic, seemingly transparent notions of what it means to be a man or a woman in a given society. Conflict resolution, reconciliation, and prevention cannot begin until a lucid and comprehensive understanding of the gendered politics that perpetrate and perpetuate violence in the first instance is provided.

This book is motivated by several crucial and related circumstances. First, it is clear from the research presented here that gender relations have been deployed in sites of militarized conflict to incite, exacerbate, and fuel violence. Knowledge of the ways in which violence occurs provides crucial clues to its antecedents and consequences and ultimately may serve to prevent its repetition, particularly in the context of war. A common image in ethnic-nationalist conflicts, as well as in national liberation movements in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia, is the woman refugee gazing out hopelessly or witnessing the death of her child. Along with the woman victim, another prevalent war image is that of a woman with a rifle over her shoulder and a baby on her back, or, in similar fashion, images of nationalist Croatian or Serbian mothers and daughters protesting on the street to prevent relief trucks from reaching zones belonging to the "enemy." These prevailing war images of women have been largely spread by state institutions, media, and military organizations and have come to constitute iconic representations and/or symbols of women at/in war. As such, they tend to serve strategic, nationalist, or state purposes and tell us little about the diversity of women's experience during war, their role on the front lines, or their care in refugee camps.

A second compelling impetus for this book is the widespread incorporation of civilians into war. Very little attention to date has been paid to this highly gendered and racialized phenomenon. No longer are "womenandchildren"—to use Cynthia Enloe's (1993: 165-66) apt expression—immune to or spatially separate from the waging of war.1 In other words, everyone is at the battlefront: "Total war has a thousand fronts. In such a war, everyone is at the front, even if one has never lain in a trench or fired a single shot" (Kapu^ciJski 2000: 183).

These war "fronts" of militarized conflict are constantly shifting, their boundaries permeated by powerful cultural, economic, and political processes of globalization. The rise of ethnic nationalisms, contests over land and mineral wealth, and struggles for power have emerged as post-Cold War cartographies of conflict on these front lines.

The ways in which war is waged are vastly different now than during the early and mid-twentieth century, when international humanitarian law, which outlines the rules of war, was drafted.< Most contemporary wars occur within the borders of sovereign states, not between countries as they once did. Notions of what constitutes a conflict zone are similarly outdated. The idea that (feminized) civilian and (masculinized) military spaces are distinct and separate no longer holds. Civilian homes may be technically out of bounds according to the rules of war, specifically the Geneva Conventions, but in practice they are often targets. Noncombatants are supposed to be safeguarded from war, with fighting duties assigned to armed soldiers, yet civilians compose the vast majority of casualties in current conflicts. Whereas most casualties at the turn of the nineteenth century occurred among soldiers at the battlefront, civilian deaths and injuries constituted 60 to 80 percent of casualties at the end of the twentieth century (Boutwell and Klare 2000: 52). Other estimates are as high as 90 percent (Weiss 1999). One can no longer distinguish between the spaces of battlefield and the home front. "[G]ender links violence at different points on a scale reaching from the personal to the international, from the home and the back street to the maneuvers of the tank column and the sortie of the stealth bomber," writes Cynthia Cockburn in Chapter 2 of this volume.

The incorporation of civilians into contemporary conflicts has been a highly gendered practice. It has occurred on the finest spatial scale: that of the human body, a site always marked by relations of gender, class, nation, race, caste, religion, and geographical location. At a broader scale, wars persist as violent encounters between sovereign states, but increasingly these state-based international relations are complicated by more global concerns. Oil companies and states collaborate to secure lucrative sources of fuel and key access routes for their products at almost any cost. Economic crises precipitated by huge debt loads, currency devaluations, and new modes of governance have contributed to the rise of ethnic nationalisms. Diamonds and other mineral wealth provide the funds to purchase arms and fight for land or access to these natural resources in civil conflict. Movements for independence in a post-Cold War landscape incite military repression. The dynamics and strategies of waging war have changed, affecting people in disparate, yet predictable ways.

A third catalyst for this book, and one that laid the initial groundwork for the Women in Conflict Zones Network (the WICZNET or the Network), has been the massive scale of people's displacement due to conflict and subsequent research on the gendered experience of both conflict and asylum. Forced migration is a barometer of social, economic, and political struggle in a given place. Studies of the ways in which people's lives are uprooted and homes are forfeited in return for safety provide grounded insights into the otherwise abstract concepts of ethnicity, identity, state building, and citizenship. Several authors in this volume write about the lives of women and their families through the various stages of flight, exile, resettlement, and sometimes return (see, in this volume, Mojab, Chapter 5; Hyndman, Chapter 9; de Alwis, Chapter 10; Hans, Chapter 11; Kora,, Chapter 12). These stories highlight inequalities and injustices inherent in the exclusionary practices related to borders and boundaries and address the relation of violence and displacement to broader economic interests, nationalist claims, and militarized maneuvers. Refugees and internally displaced persons are often the fodder of militarized conflict. They are the casualties in struggles over land, minerals, nations, homelands, and justice.

Setting a Research Agenda

The WICZNET was founded in 1996 at York University in Toronto to explore the gendered complexities of militarized violence. During several encounters, this international and interdisciplinary group of feminist scholars, activists, and policy makers deliberated concepts, argued definitions, and shared their insights on conflict zones around the world. Working across the activist-researcher divide was a central goal of the Network. One of the primary and ongoing questions for the Network has been how to define a conflict zone. An early commentary from one Network member proposed that a conflict zone is "a series of relative locations" that are subject to constant redefinition: "Dislocated by acts of violence, unable to return to their previous homes, people's relative locations change. As a result, locations that were once nearby become far away, i.e. a place where help is available can become a location where acts of violence occur" (Preston 1996).

Space constitutes social relations and is produced by such relations. Spaces imbued with meanings become places—places that are more than containers within which social processes occur (Massey 1995; see also Preston and Wong, Chapter 7 of this volume, and de Alwis, Chapter 10 of this volume). As groups struggle to shape the meanings of spaces and create places, they reconstitute and transform social relations. Conflicts are maintained at multiple spatial scales—local, national, and international; to acknowledge "place" is to enable women and men to move past their experiences of conflict and transform these places. Preston cites the example of the Madres de Mayo in Argentina, a group of mothers whose sons had been "disappeared" during the Dirty Wars in that country. By seizing and occupying the space of the Plaza de Mayo, one of the most important public spaces, this group transformed many Argentinians' views about women's "place" in political participation (Preston 1996).

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)-Yugoslavia war not only deepened our understanding of comparative research but challenged, in a very poignant way, our attempts to define a conflict zone. In early 1999, as we organized a Network meeting with our colleagues in the region of the post-Yugoslav states, NATO bombings began in Serbia and Kosova/o.2 The conflict in this region spread to western Europe and North America, where many people who considered themselves to be outside the conflict zone began to sense that they were very much within the boundaries of war (see Edith Klein, Chapter 13 of this volume). As described in Giles et al. (2003: xiii), the impact on the Network was immediate. Attempts to organize a meeting with Network members in the region under attack were abandoned. For those geographically outside the region, it was difficult to fathom that our colleagues were being targeted not only by nationalists in their own regions but by bombs dropped by the armies of NATO countries in which other members of the Network lived. Notwithstanding these difficulties (both practical and political), Network members succeeded in maintaining constant and often terrifying contact. Our solidarity with each other and with other antinationalist feminists around the world at that time was a form of defiance against NATO aggression, as well as the violence perpetrated by the Milo]evi regime in Kosova/o. The Network was also a conduit for members in the post-Yugoslav states to reach the rest of the world, circulate information, and make requests.

The Network's early debates and discussions focused on four interrelated analytical domains: (1) ethic nationalism and gender relations; (2) violence in the context of women's rights; (3) gender and citizenship; and (4) women's empowerment in war.3 Members of the Network also explored the differences and commonalities of research findings across and within various field sites, leading to the development of a comparative and methodological framework for collaborative research. Our work in this book analyzes the gendered, nationalized, racialized, and economic dimensions of violent conflict and the ways these phenomena shape the waging of contemporary war. Since 1996, these four analytical problems formed the basis of our substantive work within the Network. The research questions, however, have changed over the course of collaboration, as the researchers themselves have "rooted and shifted" (Yuval-Davis 1997: 130) to reach new understandings and feminist perspectives on the politics of gender in conflict zones. The feminist process of "rooting and shifting," in which "each participant in the dialogue brings with her the rooting in her own membership and identity, but at the same time tries to shift in order to put herself in a situation of exchange with women who have different membership and identity," is part of what Italian activists have called the "transversal politics of coalition building" (Yuval-Davis 1997: 130, 17). It is a strategic move to navigate between an essentialist (and false) belief in universal sisterhood and an apolitical relativist position that emphasizes people's differences over connections—both of which reduce the ground for feminist political collaboration and change. "The process of shifting should not involve self-decentring, abandoning one's political and other sources of belonging. But neither should rooting render us incapable of movement, of looking for connection with those, among 'the others,' with whom we might find compatible values and goals" (Cockburn 1998: 9).Transversal politics recognizes the specific positioning of political actors and the situated nature (and limits) of knowledge claims (Haraway 1991). Such politics emphasizes empathy and openness to other positionings rather than differences from them. One goal of this book is to extend feminist understandings of transversal politics by focusing on their practice in conflict zones. Another is to ground transversal politics in gender relations situated in specific sites of violence.

Despite sustained theoretical and empirical writing on gender as a central category of analysis in the context of conflict (Hyndman 1998), gender identities and relations rarely, if ever, exist in isolation from other relations of power. The intersections of gender, race, nationality, and class have long provided an analytical lens for understanding who does what work during war and why (Enloe 2000). Gender is always enmeshed in a nexus of discursive practices—legal, political, and social.

Nationalisms, Ethnic Nationalisms, and Gender Relations

One of the themes addressed in this book is the mutual constitution of war and nationalism and their respective gender dimensions. The nature, meaning, and impact of these phenomena on gender relations vary across different cultural, geographical, and political contexts. The mutually constitutive identities of gender and nation position women and men in particular ways: for example, rendering women the bearers of "tradition" and national culture and men the protectors of the faith/nation and its property (Moghadam 1994). Nationalism is concerned with both state and nonstate contestations for power that coalesce around particular identities. In Canada, for example, state multiculturalism is imbued with a nationalist discourse that is gendered and familistic, masking economic restructuring and its consequences for immigrants and their descendants in very Anglo/Eurocentric-dominant ways (Giles 2002).

Multiculturalism tends to mute racism by unifying diversity under a banner of tolerance defined by the dominant settler society. Nationalist struggles for recognition and entitlement in Canada are also waged by the First Nations aboriginal people, who have little or no state power. Bottomley (1997) argues that while nation-states may be founded on notions of an ethnic collectivity, the ethnicity of the dominant group often shapes this nation-state to the exclusion of essentialized "Others" (46). Similar to nationalist struggles, ethnic-national movements are concerned with contestations for the cultural, religious, and traditional "authenticity" of a group. While these two phenomena are products of historically and geographically specific conditions, they are also analogous, both assigning roles and responsibilities for the reproduction of the group and for the custody of cultural values and cultural identity to women. In this respect, both contemporary nationalist and ethnic-nationalist movements and their struggles represent, to a large extent, a revival and celebration of traditional gender codes and male power. As Partha Chatterjee (1996) notes, nationalism is a project of asserting difference through internal unity, but one within which hierarchies of gender, race, class, and caste are hardly unifying. Gender politics and power relations are at the center of both nationalist and ethnic-nationalist projects. A consideration of the ways in which women are simultaneously incorporated into and oppressed by both kinds of movements, particularly with regard to their reproductive functions, has been a central concern of feminist research on militarized violence.

A great deal of feminist research on nationalism focuses on the role of gender in the construction and reproduction of ethnic-national ideologies (Enloe 1989; Walby 1992; Anthias and Yuval-Davis 1992; Yuval-Davis 1997; Moghadam 1994). Research has demonstrated that in times of social and political upheaval, women frequently become the "iconic representations" (Sen 1993) of cultural and/or ethnic-national identity, particularly during national liberation movements and the creation of nation-states (Einhorn 1993; Enloe 1993; Mili+ 1993). Studies have also emphasized that the self-definition of political groups and/or ethnic-national communities is markedly gendered (Pateman 1989). Moreover, the interrelations, connections, and conflicts of class, race, ethnicity, and gender, with respect to the different positions of women as members of ethnic-national and national collectivities, have been a matter of concern for feminist scholarship (Anthias and Yuval-Davis 1992; Moghadam 1994).

A decisive element of this analysis has been critiques of nationalism by feminists from the South, who challenge the ethnocentric, racialized, and masculinist discourse of the fields of geopolitics and international relations (IR) (Mohanty 1991, 1997; Thiruchandran 1997; Jayawardena 1986). By respatializing the Eurocentric focus of IR to locations elsewhere, these feminists—among others—subvert dominant modes of representing international politics, critiques that have also been launched by feminists from the North (Pettman 1996; Peterson 1992; Kofman 1996; Whitworth 1994). The geographical location of debates about nationalism, socialism, racism, and feminism in postcolonial societies serves to challenge Eurocentric and orientalist theories of the state and international relations. The radical subaltern school, for example, espouses alternative epistemologies that tell different political histories of countries in South Asia. Feminists in the South have, for example, long examined the affinities and tensions between nationalism and feminism. Kumari Jayawardena's pioneering work demonstrates the links between feminism and nationalism in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, highlighting the ways in which the two served common ends in the struggle against colonial governance and underdevelopment by the imperial center. In her landmark tome, Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World (1986), Jayawardena chronicles the emancipatory potential of nationalism, and its limitations for women, among certain segments of colonized societies fighting for their independence. In a more contemporary context, the meaning and deployment of nationalisms have changed dramatically: "[U]ltra-nationalist movements have used women as cultural representatives and constructed them in relation to western domination. Women are the carriers of 'authenticity'; this puts them in a difficult position vis-à-vis their gender and religious identities" (Jayawardena and de Alwis 1996: xiii).

While nationalism may seek to homogenize differences under the unifying discourse of the nation, it nonetheless generates contradictory positions for women as symbols of cultural purity, agents of resistance against Western domination, and "role models for the new nationalist patriarchal family" (Moghadam 1994: 4). Nationalism is not a fixed notion, nor can it claim a unitary subject that bears nationality separate from gender, caste, class, and religious identities.

Nationalist projects demand attention precisely because of the ways in which they construct and claim women as part of the nation: "If the nation is an extended family writ large, then women's role is to carry out the tasks of nurturance and reproduction. If the nation is defined as a religious entity, then the appropriate models of womanhood are to be found in scripture. Nationhood has been recast in these terms in the latter part of the twentieth century, and this has distinct implications for definitions of gender, for the position of women, and for feminism as an emancipatory project" (Moghadam 1994: 4).

Men too are cast in certain roles in relation to the nation. It is men who are generally expected to defend the "moral consciousness" and the "ego" of the nation (Mayer 1998: 6). The patriarchal, exclusionary nation characterized by a masculinized militarization defines feminist critics as traitors (Enloe 2000: 151). But masculinity is also shaped by class and other social locations. The most telling example of the way that class cross-cuts masculinity is the military command chain that can shield senior officers from charges of rape or torture, while their juniors are variously defined as "brutes" or "boys," as in "rapists must be [lower-class] brutes" or "boys will be boys"(Enloe 2000: 152; Whitworth 1997, 2003).

Nationalism, gender, and sexuality are socially and culturally constructed and often mutually constitutive. They play an important role in constructing each other by invoking and helping to create "us"/"them" distinctions and by excluding the "Other" (Mayer 1998). Feminists challenge the construction of simple binaries between "us" and "them" and contest the "either/or" dichotomies that efface political choices under conditions of war. But such politics are often turbulent in the midst of conflict. Lepa Mladjenovi (1999) chronicles the work of feminist antiwar activists in Belgrade and highlights the contradictions and dilemmas they have confronted in practicing their politics throughout the 1990s. She poses the following paraphrased questions: "When a soldier comes to shoot at you or your daughter, what should you do: shoot back or not? Where is the line between nationalism and national feeling . . . ? If one belongs to a state or nation that produces terror, where is one's collective responsibility? How do you approach a woman who belongs to a national group that at the moment . . . is in a [less] privileged position [than oneself]?" Challenging masculinist constructions of woman and nation is one thing; making daily decisions about what action to take in the context of war and personal safety is quite another.

The antiwar activists from Women in Black in Belgrade have worked daily for more than a decade to stop the violence perpetrated in the name of the nation. In October 2000, their work was vindicated when widespread public protests against Slobodan Milo]evi, who lost a September election, led to his defeat: "There is great joy among us for this end, but our work is not done. We will continue to work on the elimination of militarism, nationalism and male violence against women!" (Women in Black 2000).

There was, however, little, if any, acknowledgment from the international media of the importance of feminist struggles and antinationalist efforts to defeat the dictatorship. Mladjenovi (1999) points out that "feminists do small tribunals—workshops for women" (10). This scale of civil action is less visible, less accessible, perhaps less interesting to the media than dramatic images of farm tractors storming parliament buildings in Belgrade in 2000. But this does not tell the whole story. As one Network member queried during the final moments of the Milo]evi regime, "Where are the women?" Women are present and have been active in critical ways all along, but their work and faces are often invisible. Nonetheless, these feminists have been vital to creating change and the conditions for a strengthened civil society.

By addressing questions about the character of current nationalist projects and the dilemmas raised by Lepa Mladjenovi, among others, several authors in this book examine the gendered impact of nationalism and the role of the nation in shaping women's identities, status, and actions. The ways in which femininity and masculinity are used to construct ethnic-national identity and the mobilization of national consciousness are part and parcel of such processes. Furthermore, authors interrogate the ways in which women from different regions of the world have become symbols and reproducers of national and ethnic ideology. They demonstrate how nationalism and ethnic nationalism are exclusionary guises that hide extensive gender, class, racial, and regional inequalities. Nationalism positions women, in particular, as marginalized subjects, caught in contradictory situations in which they contribute to the productive sphere of paid work and civic life but are excluded from full citizenship (Pateman 1989; Giles 2002).

Violence and Women's Rights

The primacy of the state in analyses of conflict has been challenged by feminist critics of international relations (Peterson 1996a, 1996b; Pettman 1996; Enloe 1993, 2000), but the multiple levels, or scales, along the continuum of violence have rarely been made explicit. Violence can be perpetrated against one's body, home, community, or country. The chapters in this book explore conflict at a range of levels precisely because it is our contention that to focus on one level of inquiry is to efface or omit connections to others. Heinous acts of systematic rape during nationalistic battles for territory and property violate the security of a person in a way that claims for "national security" cannot capture. But the motivation and meaning of rape, and sexual violence more generally, vary across and within conflict zones. Contradictions between the militarized masculinity of soldiers trained to kill or maim and their frequent assignment to UN peacekeeping duties, where their roles involve the protection of a local population through preventative measures, are brought into sharp, brutal contrast from time to time.

The sexual assault and murder of an eleven-year-old Kosovar Albanian girl by a U.S. sergeant posted to Kosova/o on a peacekeeping mission raises glaring questions about the ways and means by which the U.S. army militarizes its forces, and the impact of militarization at home and abroad. In August 2000, Staff Sergeant Frank Ronghi, thirty-six, was sentenced to life imprisonment for sodomizing and murdering a Kosovar Albanian girl, Merita Sabiu, eleven (Cohen 2000; Erlanger 2000). It would be a mistake to think that this was an isolated incident by a single deranged soldier. The 82nd Airborne Division, one of the U.S. Army's elite fighting units, and the unit of which Ronghi was part, has been under investigation by the army for other reported abuses against Kosovars while on peacekeeping duty in Kosova/o. GIs reportedly beat, threatened, and assaulted civilians and officials. These incidents were attributed to a lack of training before the regiment left for Kosova/o (Myers 2000). Probably too much training in tactics of aggression and war are at the root of such violence, not too little.

It has been argued that ethnic nationalism, as a social phenomenon, engenders a kind of "structural violence" and gender-specific crimes. While all citizens technically bear the same rights as all others, women are exposed to different forms of sexual and nonsexual violence in the context of their relation to nationalist movements and to their respective nation-states. One such political context concerns refugee women (Kora,, Chapter 12 of this volume; Indra 1996; 1999b; Giles, Moussa, and Van Esterik 1996; Van Esterik 1992). What does gendered migration mean in the context of violent nationalist struggles that seek to construct ethnically homogeneous territories and states? What kind of treatment and/or manipulation do refugee women and men experience in exile, and in what ways do these experiences shape their political consciousness? To what extent is the experience of exile also one of transformation? What kind of assistance is appropriate for women fleeing from conflict zones, as compared to men, particularly when their place of sanctuary is within a territory affected by the conflict?

Gender-specific crimes committed in war zones can become instruments of destruction in the political contests between nations. Testimony by women raped or sexually assaulted is used by political leaders to fuel nationalist fervor and hatred of the "Other." In this respect, it is important to ask whether the leadership of nationalist movements or nationalist governments is genuinely able to protect women's rights. If not, what should be done? A feminist analysis of the gendered outcomes of humanitarian law is also in order. Gender-specific forms of harm perpetrated during war are relevant (if not always recognized) considerations in refugee status determination. Accordingly, this collection includes analyses of women's (and men's) displacement due to conflict; their efforts to resist and condemn the conflict they confront; and their actions to reconstitute civil society in postwar conditions. If "women's rights are human rights," as UN organizations often promulgate, how can violent, gender-specific crimes be effectively addressed in a gender-blind international framework of rights?

Gender and Citizenship

The effects of ethnic nationalism on women's legal and political status as citizens have been a central concern for feminist research on militarized violence. The point of entry into debates on the civil, political, and social dimensions of women's citizenship is the acknowledgment of its "dualistic nature" (Yuval-Davis 1994: 187).4 That is, women are always included in the constructions of the general body of members of national and ethnic collectivities and/or citizens of the state; yet there is often a separate body of regulations (legal and/or customary) that relate to them specifically as women.

Within the context of the Network and this book, we focus on the differential positioning of women compared to men in relation to citizenship, taking into consideration their ethnicity, class, stage in the life cycle/age, urban/rural location, and refugee status, among other factors. Equality of rights, as codified in law, does not necessarily translate into equality of outcome in practice for all citizens of a nation-state. Various social, economic, and geographical locations construct positions for women as citizens. These differences become even more important in the context of ethnic-national upheavals, when they are accompanied by state interventions to ensure ethnically homogeneous territories. An examination of the ways in which ethnic-national projects and the consolidation of new nation-states are linked is crucial in determining their effects on groups marginalized by nationalist discourse.

Definitions of citizenship generally assume that all nationals bear the same rights and that the boundaries of the national collectivity and civil society are unchanging, or "organically whole" (Stasiulis and Yuval-Davis 1995; Yuval-Davis 1991a). This is clearly not the case, however, for many women, immigrants, refugees, and racial minorities throughout the world, who are technically equal legal subjects within the boundaries of civil society and the nation-state but who live in marginal spaces beyond the boundaries of the dominant nation, without access to protection and other citizenship rights. A more accurate definition of lived citizenship is articulated by Stasiulis and Bakan (1997), who draw a parallel between class and citizenship. Citizenship, like class, exists "specifically, historically, and changes continually as relationships are negotiated and re-negotiated in variable national and international conditions. . . . [C]itizenship and non-citizenship, like conflicting classes, emerge simultaneously" (118). They map the relationship between class, gender, and race/ethnicity and citizenship as follows: "[Citizenship] is a process which renders legal and legitimate discriminations based on whether individuals embody capital (e.g., as transnational capitalists benefiting from wealth creation in the NICS [newly industrializing countries]) or poverty (e.g., of the majority of those living in developing nations), as well as the dominant race/ethnicity and gender" (119).The analogy between class privileges and citizenship is clear. Access is uneven. Citizenship is historically, geographically, and socially contingent.

Gibson-Graham (1997) refers to "place" as increasingly being seen "as an important constituent of actual classes" (50). As Audrey Macklin reveals in Chapter 4 of this book, the transparency of this definition of internationalized market citizenship is evident in Sudan. There, until recently, the Canadian state has to all intents and purposes condoned the investment by the Canadian oil company, Talisman Energy Inc. Talisman, in turn, contributes to the displacement of a significant population of Sudanese, a small number of whom manage to find their way to Canada, where they become part of the Canadian "refugee" class.5 As Saskia Sassen (1993) has argued, international migrations are embedded in broader social, economic, and political processes. Migrants use the bridges built through the internationalization of capital and the military activities of dominant countries.

The politics of mobility, by which we mean access to a particular country and the rights it promises, is also of concern to feminists. Both class and gender shape access and mobility in important ways (Hyndman 2000). Jacqueline Bhabha (1996) defines the salient characteristic of the modern state as its "control over which non-citizens can have access to the territory" (6). In the same way that access to and ownership of property is associated with a privileged class position, so too is access to certain territories associated with citizenship status. One of the ways that class is expressed on a global scale is through citizenship practices (Giles 2002).

Despite transnational linkages among both people and corporate entities, limits on migration and border restrictions have become increasingly tight. While nation-state boundaries and borders can enable the protection of indigenous workers, the place called home is not always a haven. Capital and citizenship processes are intertwined in complex ways contributing to class, caste, gender, and race/ethnicity formations nationally and internationally. Citizenship policies are an integral part of regional and international economic and trade relationships and must be understood as such.

In practice, immigration policy is actually "disguised labour policy"(Cockcroft 1986, cited in Kearney 1991: 71) and foreign policy (Giles 2000). A global economy, premised on capitalist accumulation, raises serious questions about "the nature of governance, the meaning of democratization, and the location of political accountability" (Peterson 1996a: 13). In this global context Stasiulis and Jhappan (1995) describe a "backlash" against the "third world origins of most immigrant newcomers," whose arrival is perceived as an economic and cultural threat by the "white settler colony" (124). This siege mentality becomes more obvious once the context of economic globalization comes into focus, and class relations and citizenship negotiations are continually being played out.

Feminist Empowerment across a Continuum of Violence

Several chapters in this book address the issues of women's empowerment and agency in the context of violent ethnic-national conflicts and wars, driven by competing economic and social interests. They reveal how women, in particular, have subverted nationalist projects and developed solidarity movements across national, political, and economic divides, both locally and internationally. The relationship of local women's movements to ethnic nationalism and to antiwar activities is an important theme of this book: the history of local women's movements, their specific responses to violence waged by a range of actors, and the relations between local women's movements and women's groups worldwide make up feminist politics (see Blacklock and Crosby, Chapter 3 of this volume). In many cases, local women's initiatives and political actions are based on transnational bridge-building endeavors that cut across ethnic and national boundaries. These transversal politics and transnational links are crucially important, we contend, not just for improving the situation of women in ethnic-national conflict zones but for transforming gender relations within broader contexts. Two chapters focus on the relationship between women as refugees and the development of local women's movements (see Korac, Chapter 12 of this volume, and Mojab, Chapter 5, of this volume). An examination of this relationship reveals how women's experience of exile, as a form of both victimization and active transformation, can encourage and enable local women's groups to politically oppose ethnic nationalists in their regions.

In response to the salient representations of women in conflict zones (i.e., the woman warrior or the woman victim), several chapters in this book critically interrogate the issue of women's victimization in war. The authors explore the possibilities for women's agency through or as a result of war. Some examine the extent to which their involvement in war and with nationalist movements alters the roles they perform and the status they keep. As many feminists have argued, women's equal participation in war hardly constitutes female emancipation. In contradictory ways, women have accommodated, participated in, and opposed relationships with national movements, the state, their families, and the military (see Yuval-Davis, Chapter 8 of this volume). Where and to what extent have women who are refugees, soldiers, military wives and mothers, wartime rape victims, military prostitutes, nurses, and fashion designers been "maneuvered" by the militarized state? How does each of these groups engage consciously and/or unconsciously in the gendering of militarization and regard its own experiences as quite distinct from those of the others?

Feminist researchers and activists must also consider how they have been maneuvered by other forces, including the state, to understand militarized violence in specific ways that are sometimes adversarial (Enloe 2000). Feinman (2000) describes two groups, "feminist anti-militarists," who address the ways in which wars oppress women, and "feminist egalitarian militarists," who address the lack of opportunity for women in the military. The two perspectives need each other "to create a dialog about women in the military that simultaneously acknowledges the horrors of militarism and the achievements, interests and longings of women soldiers" (2). Both Enloe and Feinman argue that it is possible to understand "the full range of gendered militarization" (Enloe 2000: 299) only by combining these two approaches with analyses of the gender relations of war and militarized violence. Feminists are at the forefront of forging ways of traversing such methodological and political divides. They seek to develop new understandings of the gendering not only of militarization (see Yuval-Davis, Chapter 8 of this volume) but also of demilitarization. Transnational, transversal feminist politics can open some of these doors, a prospect we return to in the concluding chapter.

The concept of diaspora—literally the scattering or dispersion of a people—has also proven useful as a framework that embodies a transnational approach, as well as one that accentuates economic, cultural, and political connections across space. In this regard, members of the Network contend that our analyses should account for material inequalities but must also challenge the dichotomization of differences through feminist and transnational analyses of conflict zones. By transnational, we mean that social, economic, and political differences are relational and link people, institutions, and processes across international borders. No person, society, country, or company can be viewed as isolated from transnational webs of power relations and the networks within which they operate.

The Global Political Economy of Culture

Just as gender is deployed in particular ways, so too is culture. Culture is not a static set of characteristics with unalterable "ancient" origins, despite essentialized representations to the contrary. Nor are "cultures" fixed entities (Yuval-Davis 1997). Rather, they are infinitely malleable maps of meaning within a material economy of nationality, sexuality, class, caste, religion, and gender. Making explicit the multiple antecedents to war and their links with one another is part of this feminist project, precisely because some commentators tend to essentialize the causes of war as inherent to particular cultures and regions, rendering them inexorable and unavoidable (Huntington 1998; for critique, see Ó Tuathail 1998). We find this position essentialist and untenable. Neither culture, custom, nor tradition is a sufficient explanation for conflict and the gendered patterns of warfare: "The common conception is that decisions are driven by culture/tradition—rather than deliberate conscious thought. . . . Nowhere is this easy assumption more pervasive than where patriarchy and militarization converge—in the gendering of militarization" (Enloe 2000: 33-34).

The convenient attribution of war to "ancient ethnic hatreds," for example, serves not only to orientalize and "other" people who fall beyond the borders of Western geography and scholarship but to efface the very material effects of global economic integration and regional interdependence that are often linked to conditions of war. The political economy of conflict has never been more vivid than in wars that are dependent on the extraction and trade of resources located in or near a region of conflict. The diamond trade in Angola and Sierra Leone, for example, fuels conflict and pays for arms that deepen militarization among warring parties.< These economies of conflict are no less vivid in struggles over oil and pipelines in Sudan, Chechnya, and Burma.

Conversely, riots and conflict triggered by the austerity of structural adjustment programs represent struggles over scarce resources and the acute insecurity that accompany such conditions. These struggles are racialized and gendered in violent ways, as demonstrated by the Indonesian uprising against International Monetary Fund austerity measures placed on the government and resulting in increases in fuel prices in 1998 (Spencer 1998). Ethnic Chinese in Indonesia, often regarded as the well-to-do merchant class in the country, were targeted as scapegoats; their shops were looted and property destroyed. This violence was both racialized and gendered. As many as 168 women of Chinese ethnicity were targeted for rape during this period of economic crisis, while 1,200 were killed during the riots (Spencer 1998).

The historical and geographical contingency of nationalism and/or ethnic nationalisms in the context of globalization needs to be scrutinized. Susie Jacobs (2000) argues that ethnic nationalisms are always "integral" to globalizing processes: "In the same way, the Holocaust and modernity, seemingly irreconcilable, were all part of one process" (227). Nationalist movements seek the status of states in order to ensure the territorial integrity and well-being of their group. However, projects of globalization often weaken the power of nation-states to provide for the welfare of their citizens, and thus any claims on the part of nationalists to provide for the welfare of the group are highly suspect. This is especially the case for women, as nationalist movements already reproduce gender inequalities (Peterson 1996a: 13) and globalization has proven to exacerbate these inequities. Nationalist movements are frequently opportunistic, seeking statehood in some instances and sustaining their power through the market economy in others. We return to this issue in the final chapter.

Sites of Research and Struggle

In this collection, feminist authors from a number of disciplines analyze the politics of gender relations at specific sites of violence. The book is divided into four parts: "Feminist Approaches to Gender and Conflict" (Part One); "Making Feminist Sense of Violence against Women in War and Postwar Times" (Part Two); "Feminist Analyses of International Organizations and Asylum" (Part Three); and "Feminist Futures: Negotiating Globalization, Security, and Human Displacement" (Part Four). The chapters that compose these parts incorporate analyses of the four major research themes identified as part of the original mandate of the WICZNET but go further to analyze the gender politics of global political economy, ethnic nationalism, and resource wars from feminist perspectives.

In Chapter 2, Cynthia Cockburn considers the meaning and parameters of an explicitly feminist gender analysis. She discusses its importance vis-à-vis the concept of a "continuum of violence," from the gender violence of everyday life, through the structural violence of economic systems that sustain inequalities and the repressive policing of dictatorial regimes, to the armed conflict of open warfare. Her analysis draws on material from different countries and conflicts, describing the different parts played by women and men respectively: the contrasting representations of gender difference; the significance of familial positioning and ideology; and the hierarchical relationships of gender power systems in relation to violence, war, and peace.

Chapter 3 is a collaborative analysis of feminist methods and politics in conflict zones, specifically in Guatemala. Cathy Blacklock and Alison Crosby develop a comparative methodological framework of two different moments in Guatemalan history: the period of "democratization" (1985-96), and the post-peace accord era (1997-present). The authors discuss the Guatemalan "culture of silence" as a form of resistance, as well as its impact on their research during both time periods. Blacklock and Crosby ask pointed questions about who the beneficiaries of research are; what the nature of the relationship is between outsiders and insiders; and "how a wartime or post-war environment affects the possibilities of feminist research."

In Part Two of the book, Audrey Macklin uses the case of the Canadian company, Talisman Energy Inc., which operated until recently in South Sudan, to examine the impact of global capital investment on human displacement in Chapter 4. Interviewing women and men civilians affected by the war and the operations of the government-supported oil consortium, she discusses how security has been redefined, not as the protection of human beings and their most basic rights, but as the protection of oil company stock prices. She examines the ways in which women have been affected by the precipitous decline in human security. Rape and enslavement keep them constantly on the run from government military forces as they also try to avoid the abduction, rape, and enslavement of their children. Her chapter raises serious questions about the complicity of the Canadian state in the war in Sudan.

In Chapter 5, the themes of globalization, ethnic nationalism, and militarization are further pursued by Shahrzad Mojab in her study of the lives of Kurdish women living in one of the major "conflict zones" of the world—Iraqi Kurdistan—in the aftermath of the Gulf War of 1990-91. She examines the relationships between political and gender violence, "honor" and nationalism, and war and honor killing and provides considerable insight into the complexity of oppression and resistance. Kurdistan, an imagined community, is a site where local, regional, and world powers are involved in an unceasing war for the military, economic, and political control of the Middle Eastern geopolitical order.

In Chapter 6, Mirjana Morokvasic-Müller analyzes the gendered effects of "mixed" marriage on women and men and on their respective families in the post-Yugoslav states. She argues that women, more than men, are socially classified by their marriage and that the positive or negative outcomes of interethnic marriage affect women more than they affect men. In the systematic erasure of the "Other," the first targets and victims of ethnic cleansing are people who are, or whose existence represents proof of the possibility of living together with, the "Other": the so-called mixed or interethnic couples and families and people of mixed background. They are thought of as "polluting" the ideologies of nationally "pure" states, challenging the myth of common origin and the idea of women as metaphors of nation.

Valerie Preston and Madeleine Wong, in Chapter 7, link the legacy of British colonialism and structural adjustment policies to recent militarized conflict in Ghana. This conflict has directly contributed to Ghanaian women's increasing social and economic marginality, as well as their vulnerability to various forms of gendered violence. Preston and Wong examine cases of the enslavement and prostitution of young girls, domestic abuse, and the plight of migrant/immigrant women workers in Ghana and beyond. This chapter probes the silence regarding gendered violence and oppression in Ghana and argues for analyses that examine how space and place mediate women's experiences of conflict at various geographical scales.

In Chapter 8, Nira Yuval-Davis examines the ways in which nationalist discourse is gendered and how this shapes and is affected by sexual divisions of labor in the military. She argues that only rarely are differential power relations between men and women in the military erased. Drawing on examples from the ongoing conflict in Israel-Palestine and elsewhere, Yuval-Davis traces the gender dimensions of state intervention and militarism in a charged atmosphere of nationalism on the "front lines."

In Part Three, the role of international organizations in refugee camps and the struggles of refugee women beyond camps are chronicled in several chapters. In Chapter 9, Jennifer Hyndman looks at refugee camps as conflict zones and examines the operations of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in particular. She argues that the ways in which the organization conceives of gender and culture in the humanitarian context of Kenyan refugee camps is problematic because it tends either to essentialize "woman" and "culture" in the planning process or to minimize the meaning and implications of these differences vis-à-vis gender policies that focus on integration. Drawing on her research relating to gender policies and initiatives to combat violence against refugee women in camps situated in Kenya's Northeast province, she stresses the point that "place matters." Hyndman argues that no gender approach to humanitarian operations is viable without consideration of the contingencies of political geography and history.

In Chapter 10, Malathi de Alwis uses the context of camps for displaced Muslims in Sri Lanka to explore the production of space through social relations. She argues that social relations are generated through spatial arrangements in camps, and she illustrates this argument through insights gleaned from interviews with displaced women in Puttalam. Notions of home are constantly reiterated in the camps in material ways. In a country where war has raged for two decades between Tamil militants and the Sri Lankan state, a topography of violence has materialized. De Alwis explores the emergent meanings of front lines, border zones, and no-man's-land in the context of the conflict.

Asha Hans analyzes Afghan women's flight and temporary sanctuary in Chapter 11. She contends that women have fled more than one political regime in Afghanistan but that under the Taliban, women's space is all but annihilated. Through fifty interviews conducted with Afghan women, Hans documents the new social order of rural values imposed on urban people under Taliban rule. Women's bodies mark the boundaries of the state until they flee its violence. She also explores the meaning of "nation" to women once they are in exile.

Maja Kora, chronicles changes in gender roles generated by politics of ethnic nationalism in the context of war and displacement in what once was Yugoslavia in Chapter 12. Her research focuses on in-depth interviews with ten women living in Serbia over a period of four years. Korac analyzes the ways in which women become the markers and boundaries of the nation. Their displacement, she argues, is at once symbolic and deeply felt in the exclusionary projects of nation building.

In Chapter 13, Edith Klein discusses the multilateral intervention of NATO in the interethnic conflict in Kosova/o, marked by the launch of an escalating military action and bombardments of strategic sites in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Kosova/o. This chapter begins a much-needed discussion of the gender politics of NATO by focusing on how multilateral militarism is taking place in a context of a globalizing world economy and within highly militarized (unelected) international organizations. Klein argues that this process leads to a shrinking of the democratic space, leaving women in postconflict society at "a difficult and potentially perilous crossroads."

In their entirety, these chapters offer innovative theoretical, methodological, and empirical approaches to gender politics and the ways they are employed to incite, exacerbate, and fuel violence. In the final chapter, we conclude with a reflection on feminist politics in the context of militarized violence. In particular, we examine the gender implications of globalization, human security, and human rights. We contend that it is crucial to identify the gendered antecedents and consequences of violence, conflict, and war. Processes of globalization, for example, are gendered in specific ways that may contribute to or inhibit conflict. Likewise, new concepts, such as "human security," should be interrogated from a feminist perspective in order to understand the gender relations they imply. Feminist knowledge and practices connect global, national, and local levels. Recognizing the overlapping civilian and military spaces that constitute sites of violence is also crucial in deciding what counts as a conflict zone. The final chapter and the book as a whole make a concerted call for feminist approaches to conceptualizing conflict and contemplating action.


1. Enloe is critical of the ways in which women and children are collapsed into a common category of vulnerable, gendered subjects; in war and as symbols of nationalism, women are not defined as subjects in their own right but are reduced to their reproductive and traditional social roles as mothers.

2. We have allowed authors in this book to choose the spelling of the country or the region to which they refer.

3. Our discussion of these four approaches is indebted to and inspired by the ideas that Alison Crosby, Wenona Giles, and Maja Kora, discussed and debated in the early days of the WICZNET, resulting in their joint paper that set an initial discussion agenda for the Network (Crosby, Giles, and Kora, 1996).

4. We suggest that issues of citizenship be understood and explored, following Marshall (1950), as encompassing political, social, and civil rights and responsibilities insofar as these relate to ethnic, national, and state membership.

5. The displaced population in Sudan is huge. And paradoxically, while Canada invests in southern Sudan, it has also opened its doors to the flow of refugees from Sudan. In 2000, Sudan was the third largest source country for government-sponsored refugees to Canada. Between 1997 and 1999, Sudan is listed among the top ten source countries of refugee principal applicants and dependents arriving in Canada (Citizenship and Immigration Canada 1999: 57). The Canadian government has not yet acknowledged any connection between these two phenomena. However, under pressure from the international NGO community, Talisman has recently sold its Sudanese investment.