International Human Rights, Gender-Based Violence, and Local Discourses of Abuse in Postconflict Liberia: A Problem of "Culture"?


Abramowitz, Sharon, and Mary H. Moran. 2012. “International Human Rights, Gender-Based Violence, and Local Discourses of Abuse in Postconflict Liberia: A Problem of ‘Culture’?” African Studies Review 55 (2): 119–46. 


Authors: Sharon Abramowitz, Mary H. Moran


In this article we draw on three years of ethnographic observation of postconflict humanitarian intervention in Liberia to consider the process whereby global efforts in the areas of gender-based violence (GBV) and human rights are interacting with local debates over kinship, entitlement, personal rights, and social responsibility. This article draws upon Liberian narratives, complaints, and efforts to regulate, in a national context, social norms and behavior in regard to gender-based violence issues in postconflict life while also engaging with an ongoing international human rights discourse on the subject of GBV. Our ethnography takes a multiscalar approach to give a sense of the process, multiple discourses, and dialectics of power involved in this issue, and to demonstrate how the definition of “the GBV problem” in Liberia, the target of complex GBV interventions, is different from the conception held by agencies, governmental ministries, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that are responsible for implementing global mandates.

Topics: Gender-Based Violence, Post-Conflict Governance, Humanitarian Assistance, NGOs, Post-Conflict, Rights, Human Rights Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Liberia

Year: 2012

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