‘Doing’ Security As Though Humans Matter: A Feminist Perspective on Gender and the Politics of Human Security


Hudson, Heidi. 2005. "‘Doing’ Security As Though Humans Matter: A Feminist Perspective on Gender and the Politics of Human Security." Security Dialogue 36 (2): 155-74.

Author: Heidi Hudson


A feminist perspective can make security discourse more reflective of its own normative assumptions. In respect of an expanded human security concept, a feminist perspective highlights the dangers of masking differences under the rubric of the term ‘human’. A critical feminist perspective is geared towards addressing the politics of multiple overlapping identities. Since gender is intertwined with other identities such as race, class and nationality, the dichotomy between universalism and cultural relativism is overcome by connecting individual experiences in a particular location to wider regional and global structures and processes. An overview of a number of feminist and security-studies schools of thought reveals the extent of universalizing tendencies and gender silences within such discourses. The conceptual and political commensurability of the gender and security constructs is often overlooked. An emphasis on identity politics may thus help to clarify the ambivalence of human security as both a political project of emancipation and an analytical framework. A case is therefore made for more fluid context-based interpretations of gender in human security. In this regard it is posited that alternative feminist approaches, such as those rooted in the African context, could facilitate dialogue within and across supposedly irreconcilable standpoints.

Keywords: human security, gender, identity politics, Africa, feminism, interparadigm dialogue

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Women, Security, Human Security Regions: Africa

Year: 2005

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