Fixing Gender: The Paradoxical Politics of Peacekeeper Training

Citation:

Holvikivi, Aiko. 2019. "Fixing Gender: The Paradoxical Politics of Peacekeeper Training." PhD diss., The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

Author: Aiko Holvikivi

Abstract:

Over the past two decades, gender training for military and police peacekeepers has become institutionalised in the global governance of peace and security. Such training purports to respond to gendered harms previously ignored in, or actively caused by, peacekeeping operations. This evolving transnational practice involves the introduction of gender knowledge – indebted to feminist theorising and activism – into police and military organisations – commonly characterised as institutions of hegemonic masculinity. This thesis takes the tension between feminism and martial institutions as its point of departure to investigate what meaning the term gender acquires in training for uniformed peacekeepers, asking: What epistemic and political work does gender training do in martial institutions? Investigating the pedagogical practices of gender training through a multi-sited ethnography, I approach this question with the help of feminist, postcolonial, (and) queer epistemic perspectives. I conceptualise gender training as involving the production of knowledges around gender; knowledges which enable ways of being and acting in the world. I suggest that training practices often produce an understanding of gender that serves martial politics and reproduces colonial logics in the peacekeeping enterprise, thereby emptying the term of the transformative political hopes that feminist theorists typically invest in the concept. At the same time, I identify moments of tension, in which gender training appears to be destabilising hierarchical martial logics and engaging in subversive pedagogy. In sum, I argue that ambivalence is an integral feature of gender training, and locate political potential in the cultivation of resistant pedagogies, which exploit the margins of hegemonic discourses to engage in subversive strategies of destabilisation and delinking. This thesis provides an empirical contribution to an under-studied area of global governance, as well as forwarding feminist theorising on political strategies for engaging with and against institutions of state power.

Topics: Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Feminisms, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Discourses, Governance, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Peacekeeping

Year: 2019

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