Messy Feminist Knowledge Politics: A Double Reading of Post-Conflict Gender Mainstreaming in Liberia


Kunz, Rahel. 2020. "Messy Feminist Knowledge Politics: A Double Reading of Post-Conflict Gender Mainstreaming in Liberia." International Feminist Journal of Politics 22 (1): 63-85.

Author: Rahel Kunz


The debate around the production and circulation of feminist knowledge has been rekindled since the emergence of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda. While much attention focuses on the diffusion of WPS norms, less is paid to the sociocultural context within which feminist ideas circulate through WPS gender-mainstreaming (GM) interventions, its broader implications, and what happens beyond. I propose a double reading of GM as a site of feminist knowledge production and circulation: I combine anthropological and feminist governmentality insights to analyze GM as a form of (disciplinary) governing with insights from post/decolonial scholars that call for an engagement with the “exteriority” of interventions, with what lies outside our grid of intelligibility of the narrow political terrain of GM. Through a case study of the post-conflict GM intervention in Liberia, I illustrate how this double reading reveals the ways in which GM works as a gendered form of governing to prescribe dualistic social roles and (re)produce social differentiation mechanisms linked to “civilization.” An engagement with the exteriority of the GM intervention reveals critiques and alternative forms of feminist knowledge production and circulation that emphasize non-dualistic and non-judgmental attitudes and propose invited partnership and dialogue.

Keywords: feminist knowledge circulation, gender mainstreaming, governmentality, post/decolonial feminism, norm diffusion, women, peace and security

Topics: Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Feminisms, Gender Mainstreaming, Governance, Post-Conflict, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Liberia

Year: 2020

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