Gender, Violence and Global Politics: Contemporary Debates in Feminist Security Studies

Laura Shepherd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Citations (Scopus)


In this essay I develop a critique of the war/peace dichotomy that is foundational to conventional approaches to IR through a review of three recent publications in the field of feminist security studies. These texts are Cynthia Enloe's (2007) Globalization and Militarism, David Roberts' (2008) Human Insecurity, and Mothers, Monsters, Whores: Women's Violence in Global Politics by Laura Sjoberg and Caron Gentry (2008). Drawing on the insights of these books, I ask first how violence is understood in global politics, with specific reference to the gendered disciplinary blindnesses that frequently characterise mainstream approaches. Second, I demonstrate how a focus on war and peace can neglect to take into account the politics of everyday violence: the violences of the in-between times that international politics recognises neither as 'war' nor 'peace' and the violences inherent to times of peace that are overlooked in the study of war. Finally, I argue that feminist security studies offers an important corrective to the foundational assumptions of IR, which themselves can perpetuate the very instances of violence that they seek to redress. If we accept the core insights of feminist security studies - the centrality of the human subject; the importance of particular configurations of masculinity and femininity; and the gendered conceptual framework that underpins the discipline of IR - we are encouraged to envisage a rather different politics of the global.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)208-219
Number of pages12
JournalPolitical Studies Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2009


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