The Gendered Reproduction of the State in International Relations

Citation:

Kantola, Johanna. 2007. “The Gendered Reproduction of the State in International Relations.” The British Journal of Politics and International Relations 9 (2): 270–83.

Author: Johanna Kantola

Abstract:

This article focuses on feminist debates about the state in International Relations (IR). I develop an argument about the gendered reproduction of the state that is based on a Foucauldian notion of power and a Butlerian deconstruction of gender. This approach challenges the unity of the state, power and gender, and the state becomes the gendered effect of discursive and structural processes. I critically discuss recent arguments for the need to move ‘beyond the state’ and to abandon the category of the state altogether, arguing that rather than abandoning the state, their contribution is to draw attention to the need to focus on the intersections of local, national and global levels when analysing states. The article focuses then on the ways in which feminist debates challenge the IR notion of ‘sovereign states’. Feminist scholars problematise three issues in particular: sovereignty, the inside/outside dichotomy and the fiction of the state as a person. I suggest that these debates fundamentally refute the unity of the state upon which some of IR theory continues to rely. Finally, I discuss the state as an effect of discursive and structural processes, which shifts the focus to the gendered reproduction of the state., This article focuses on feminist debates about the state in International Relations (IR). I develop an argument about the gendered reproduction of the state that is based on a Foucauldian notion of power and a Butlerian deconstruction of gender. This approach challenges the unity of the state, power and gender, and the state becomes the gendered effect of discursive and structural processes. I critically discuss recent arguments for the need to move ‘beyond the state’ and to abandon the category of the state altogether, arguing that rather than abandoning the state, their contribution is to draw attention to the need to focus on the intersections of local, national and global levels when analysing states. The article focuses then on the ways in which feminist debates challenge the IR notion of ‘sovereign states’. Feminist scholars problematise three issues in particular: sovereignty, the inside/outside dichotomy and the fiction of the state as a person. I suggest that these debates fundamentally refute the unity of the state upon which some of IR theory continues to rely. Finally, I discuss the state as an effect of discursive and structural processes, which shifts the focus to the gendered reproduction of the state.

Keywords: feminist International Relations (IR), state, sovereignty, performative

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Gender Analysis, Gendered Discourses, Gendered Power Relations

Year: 2007

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