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Kirkegaard, Ane M. 2007. "Theoretical Intersections: Implications of Postcolonial and Feminist Theory to Our Understanding of and Teaching on Sexualised Violence in Contemporary Post-Colonial Conflicts." Paper presented at the International Studies Association 48th Annual Convention, Chicago, February 28-March 3.
Author: Ane M. Kirkegaard
During the post-colonial India-Pakistan war of partition somewhere between 80.000 and 100.000 women were abducted and raped. That women were abducted and raped was not particular to the conflict. What was particular was the large number of victimised women and the subsequent official acknowledgement of the violence. Half a century later the world faced the consequences of two other post-colonial conflicts during which women were specifically targeted through organised abductions and rape on a mass scale. This time, however the world reacted by defining rape as a weapon of war and as a war crime for which organisers and executors of rape during war and conflict could be accused and sentenced at international courts of justice. Also, research on sexualised violence during war increased, in particular studies mapping sexualised violence against women during war and conflict. However, theoretical explanations are lacking in precision and clarity with the result that we are still badly equipped to understand the complexities of organised sexualised violence, as explanations for such violence are often grounded in outdated andro- and/or ethnocentric theories about male and female roles and behaviour. In this paper I will argue that we need to bring peace and conflict theory up to date through the introduction of contemporary postcolonial and feminist theory. Applied to the examples above the theoretical explanations for the massive abductions and rapes, in particular in the case of India/Pakistan in the late 1940s and Rwanda in 1994, must include an analysis of the colonial and post-colonial context and the sexualisation of the Other as part of colonial and post-colonial identity formation and the consequent image of the Others? Selves. Reading contemporary post-colonial conflicts at the intersection of peace, conflict, feminist and postcolonial theory has academic implications both in terms of research and teaching within the field of peace and conflict studies. The rather conservative androcentrism of traditional peace and conflict studies will through the introduction of feminist and postcolonial theory have to approach both gender and the consequences of colonialism as fundamental to contemporary conflicts and the new wars. The demands from students on the inclusion of such perspectives on teachers and researchers are growing but few are willing to take on the task of renewing the subject. My contribution to the ISA 2007 annual conference is hence focused on the exploration of the implications of the theoretical intersection of peace, conflict, feminist and postcolonial theory, and should be read both as academic politics?i.e. a reaction against the too slow awakening of researchers in this field? and as an engagement with demands from students of peace and conflict.
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