Militarism, conflict and women's activism in the global era: Challenges and prospects for women in three West African contexts

Citation:

Mama, Amina and Margo Okazawa-Rey. 2012. "Militarism, conflict and women's activism in the global era: challenges and prospects for women in three West African contexts." Feminist Review 101 (1): 97-123.

Authors: Amina Mama, Margo Okazawa-Rey

Abstract:

This article develops a feminist perspective on militarism in Africa, drawing examples from the Nigerian, Sierra Leonean and Liberian civil wars spanning several decades to examine women’s participation in the conflict, their survival and livelihood strategies, and their activism. We argue that postcolonial conflicts epitomise some of the worst excesses of militarism in the era of neoliberal globalisation, and that the economic, organisational and ideological features of militarism undermine the prospects for democratisation, social justice and genuine security, especially for women, in post-war societies. Theorisations of ‘new wars’ and the war economy are taken as entry points to a discussion of the conceptual and policy challenges posed by the enduring and systemic cultural and material aspects of militarism. These include the contradictory ways in which women are affected by the complex relationship between gendered capitalist processes and militarism, and the manner in which women negotiate their lives through both. Finally, we highlight the potential of transnational feminist theorising and activism for strengthening intellectual and political solidarities and argue that the globalised military security system can be our ‘common context for struggle’1 as contemporary feminist activist scholars.

Keywords: militarism, gender, armed conflict, West Africa, feminism, security

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Democracy / Democratization, Economies, Gender, Femininity/ies, Globalization, Justice, Livelihoods, Militarized livelihoods, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarism, Political Participation, Post-Conflict, Security Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone

Year: 2012

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