Gender and UN Peace Operations: The Confines of Modernity


Vayrynen, Tarja. 2004. “Gender and UN Peace Operations: The Confines of Modernity.” International Peacekeeping 11 (1): 125–42.

Author: Tarja Varynen


The essay seeks to problematize the recent UN discourse on gender, peace and war by demonstrating how modernity sets the limits for the discourse, and therewith confines the discourse to the pre-given binary categories of agency, identity and action. It engages in an analysis of modernity and the mode of thinking that modernity establishes for thinking about war and peace. It is demonstrated in the text that new thinking on post-Westphalian conflicts and human security did open up a discursive space for thinking about gender in peace operations, but this space has not been fully utilized. By remaining within the confines of modernity, the UN discourse on peace operations produces neoliberal modes of masculinity and femininity where the problem-solving epistemology gives priority to the ‘rationalist’ and manageralist masculinity and renders silent the variety of ambivalent and unsecured masculinities and femininities.

Topics: Gender, Masculinity/ies, Femininity/ies, Gendered Discourses, International Organizations, Peacekeeping, Peace Processes, Security, Human Security

Year: 2004

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