Embodying Difference: Reading Gender in Women's Memoirs of Humanitarianism


Read, Róisín. 2018. "Embodying Difference: Reading Gender in Women's Memoirs of Humanitarianism." Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding 12 (3): 300-18.

Author: Róisín Read


This article explores embodied difference in humanitarianism and peacebuilding by treating women's memoirs as a form of ‘flesh witnessing’. It argues that the essays in the anthology Chasing Misery are claims to the authority of ‘The Field’ that also reveal the women’s feelings of only ‘passing’ as aid workers. Three distinct themes are noted: the construction of The Field as a site of embodied authority and the ways in which the essays reinforce and trouble this; the writers feeling different, and separate, from those they work with/for; and the embodied gender presented with reference to imagined ‘real’ aid workers.

Keywords: gender, difference, passing, embodiment, memoir, aid worker

Topics: Gender, Women, Humanitarian Assistance, Peacebuilding

Year: 2018

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