War as Feminized Labour in the Global Political Economy of Neo-Imperialism

Citation:

Meger, Sara. 2016. “War as Feminized Labour in the Global Political Economy of Neo-Imperialism.” Postcolonial Studies 19(4): 378–92. 

Author: Sara Meger

Abstract:

This article examines the structures of international relations that facilitate political violence in postcolonial states. It explores the intersections of patriarchy and imperialism in the contemporary political economy to understand how armed conflict and political violence in postcolonial states form an integral element of the global economy of accumulation in deeply gendered ways. By focusing on the structural level of analysis, this article argues that the siting of armed conflict in postcolonial contexts serves to maintain neo-colonial relations of exploitation between the West and non-West, and is made both possible and effective through the gendering of political identities and types of work performed in the global economy. I argue here that armed conflict is a form of feminized labour in the global economy. Despite the fact that performing violence is a physically masculine form of labour, the outsourcing of armed conflict as labour in the political economy is ‘feminized’ in that it represents the flexibilization of labour and informalization of market participation. So while at the same time that this work is fulfilling hegemonic ideals of militarized masculinity within the domestic context, at the international level it actually demonstrates the ‘weakness’ or ‘otherness’ of the ‘failed’/feminized state in which this violence occurs, and legitimizes and hence re-entrenches the hegemonic relations between the core and eriphery on the basis of problematizing the ‘weak’ state’s masculinity. It is through the discursive construction of the non-Western world as the site of contemporary political violence that mainstream international relations reproduces an orientalist approach to both understanding and addressing the ‘war puzzle'.

Keywords: political economy, neo-colonialism, war, gender, feminized labour, feminist international relations, postcolonial theory

Topics: Armed Conflict, Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Feminisms, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gender Analysis, Femininity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Political Economies, Violence

Year: 2016

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