Withdrawing from Politics? Gender, Agency and Women Ex-Fighters in Nepal


Ketola, Hanna. 2020. “Withdrawing from Politics? Gender, Agency and Women Ex-Fighters in Nepal.” Security Dialogue. doi: 10.1177:0967010620906322.

Author: Hanna Ketola


Conceptualizations of post-conflict agency have been widely debated in feminist security studies and critical international relations studies. This article distinguishes between three feminist approaches to post-conflict agency: narrative of return, representations of agency and local agency. It argues that all these approaches in distinct ways emphasize a modality of agency as resistance. To offer a more encompassing account of post-conflict agency the article engages Saba Mahmood’s (2012) critique of the modality of agency in feminist theory and her decoupling of agency from resistance. The article explores experiences of women who fought in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Nepal. It focuses on ‘withdrawing from politics’, a dynamic whereby women ex-fighters move away from party activities and the public sphere, and rearticulates this withdrawing as a location of political agency. The article argues that being an ‘ex-PLA’ emerges as a form of subjectivity that is crafted through experiencing war and encountering peacebuilding, enabling a production of heterogeneous modalities of agency in the post-conflict context. By examining these modalities, the article challenges us to rethink post-conflict agency beyond the capacity to subvert regulatory gender norms and/or discourses of liberal peace.

Keywords: agency, conflict, gender, peacebuilding

Topics: Combatants, Female Combatants, Conflict, Feminisms, Gender, Post-Conflict, Peacebuilding, Political Participation Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Nepal

Year: 2020

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