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Maneuvers: The International Politics of Militarizing Women's Lives


Enloe, Cynthia. 2000. Maneuvers: The International Politics of Militarizing Women's Lives. Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Author: Cynthia Enloe


Maneuvers takes readers on a global tour of the sprawling process called "militarization." Cynthia Enloe shows that the people who become militarized are not just the obvious ones—executives and factory floor workers who make fighter planes, land mines, and intercontinental missiles. They are also the employees of food companies, toy companies, clothing companies, film studios, stock brokerages, and advertising agencies. Militarization is never gender-neutral, Enloe claims: It is a personal and political transformation that relies on ideas about femininity and masculinity. Films that equate action with war, condoms that are designed with a camouflage pattern, fashions that celebrate brass buttons and epaulettes, tomato soup that contains pasta shaped like Star Wars weapons—all of these contribute to militaristic values that mold our culture in both war and peace.

Maneuvers takes an international look at the politics of masculinity, nationalism, and globalization. Enloe ranges widely from Japan to Korea, Serbia, Kosovo, Rwanda, Britain, Israel, the United States, and many points in between. She covers a broad variety of subjects: gays in the military, the history of "camp followers," the politics of women who have sexually serviced male soldiers, married life in the military, military nurses, and the recruitment of women into the military. One chapter titled "When Soldiers Rape" explores the many facets of the issue in countries such as Chile, the Philippines, Okinawa, Rwanda, and the United States. Enloe outlines the dilemmas feminists around the globe face in trying to craft theories and strategies that support militarized women, locally and internationally, without unwittingly being militarized themselves. She explores the complicated militarized experiences of women as prostitutes, as rape victims, as mothers, as wives, as nurses, and as feminist activists, and she uncovers the "maneuvers" that military officials and their civilian supporters have made in order to ensure that each of these groups of women feel special and separate. 

Keywords: militarization, masculinity, nationalism, globalization

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Women, Men, Masculinity/ies, Gender Roles, Globalization, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarization, Nationalism

Year: 2000

From Where We Stand: War, Women's Activism and Feminist Analysis


Cockburn, Cynthia. 2007. From Where We Stand: War, Women's Activism and Feminist Analysis. New York: Zed Books.

Author: Cynthia Cockburn


The product of 80,000 miles of travel by the author over a two-year period, this original study examines women's activism against wars as far apart as Sierra Leone, Colombia and India. It shows women on different sides of conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and Israel refusing enmity and co-operating for peace. It describes international networks of women opposing US and Western European militarism and the so-called 'war on terror'. Women are often motivated by adverse experiences in male-led anti-war movements, preferring to choose different methods of protest and remain in control of their own actions. But like the mainstream movements, women's groups differ - some are pacifist while others put justice before non-violence; some condemn nationalism as a cause of war while others see it as a legitimate source of identity. The very existence of feminist antimilitarism proposes a radical shift in our understanding of war, linking the violence of patriarchal power to that of class oppression and ethnic 'othering'.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Society, Class, Ethnicity, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gender Analysis, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarism, Nonviolence, Peacebuilding, Political Participation, Race, Terrorism, Violence Regions: Africa, West Africa, Americas, North America, South America, Asia, South Asia, Europe, Western Europe Countries: Colombia, India, Sierra Leone, United States of America

Year: 2007

Gender, Ethnicity and Class: “Burying Otieno” Revisited


Gordon, April. 1995. "Gender, Ethnicity and Class in Kenya: “Burying Otieno” Revisited.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 20 (41): 883- 912.

Author: April Gordon


In the Summer 1991 issue of Signs, Patricia Stamp published an excellent analysis of a legal controversy in Kenya. Titled "Burying Otieno: The Politics of Gender and Ethnicity in Kenya," Stamp's article focused on the place of customary versus common law, the primacy of ethnicity versus national identity, and the power of patriarchy over women's rights in Kenya. Stamp also discussed feminist politics, concluding that the results of the Otieno case would politicize many Kenyan women and be the terrain for future feminist struggle in Africa (Stamp 1991, 832-33). Although all of these issues are important, I wish to focus in this article on a topic - the importance of class as well as gender and ethnicity in the Otieno case- that Stamp did not discuss in depth in her analysis of a highly complex social reality. This complexity and the variety of meanings it can have are certainly demonstrated in the Otieno case by the widespread journalistic, popular, and scholarly commentary it has generated both within and outside of Kenya. My purpose, then, is to extend these other analyses.

Keywords: social reality, women's rights, land rights, Property Rights, patriarchy



"Gordon argues that the issues revealed in the Otieno case are more complex than an unambiguous conflict between patriarchy and women’s rights. It demonstrates that: “the often assumed unity in women’s struggles based on gender can overlook that there are fundamental differences among women that divide them, especially differences of class, race, religion, and ethnicity.” (885)

"Moreover, some women stand to gain more or to benefit at the expense of other women from particular women’s rights agendas. She argues that by examining how class and ethnicity as well as gender interrelate in Kenya: “we can get a better understanding of both men’s and women’s reactions to the Otieno case and what interests are at stake.” (886)

"Gordon takes Stamp’s point about Wambui being viewed as an individual and not as part of a group (whether gender or clan) and attributes it to something other than women being viewed as part of the household sphere, stating that: “although Wambui Otieno saw herself as fighting for women’s rights in Kenya, my view is that she represents primarily the interests of Africa’s emerging but not yet hegemonic capitalist classes rather than African women in general.” (886)

“Since the colonial penetration of Africa, precapitalist African social institutions and modes of production have been modified and used to further the interests of global capitalism and foreign and African elites. The resulting mode of production, which sustains dependent, underdeveloped capitalist development, is neither precapitalist nor capitalist but a mixture. And its success depends on the perpetuation of so-called traditional kinship and gender relations rooted in ties of ethnicity and the patriarchal extended family.” (887)

Topics: Class, Ethnicity, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Gender Equality/Inequality, Rights, Land Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Kenya

Year: 1995

Women, Land Struggles, and the Reconstruction of the Commons


Federici, Silvia. 2011. “Women, Land Struggles, and the Reconstruction of the Commons.” The Journal of Labor and Society 14 (1): 41-56

Author: Silvia Federici


This article examines the question of communal land property in Africa and its implications for women's land rights. Among the themes discussed are: the reforms of communal land tenure attempted by the World Bank in the 1990s, the critique of communal land relations that feminist organizations have made on account of their patriarchal discrimination against women, and the simultaneous efforts by landless rural and urban women to appropriate unused plots of public land for subsistence farming. While warning that the feminist attack on communal land ownership may strengthen the neo-liberal drive towards the privatization of land, the article looks at women's reclamation of unused public land for subsistence farming as the path to the constitution of new commons.


  • The article looks at two kinds of struggle that women are making in Africa that have a direct impact on the future of communal lands. First is the women’s movement that has developed in the 1990s to fight for land rights and which has declared its opposition to customary tenure because of its patriarchalism and discrimination against women. Second, are the struggles of women in urban areas who, in contrast to the prevailing trend toward privatization, take over plots of public land to farm them for their families’ subsistence.

  • There is much that we can learn from them as to the interests that are today shaping people’s relation to communal resources and the role that gender issues play in this process. These struggles show that egalitarianism is for commons a question of survival, for unequal power relations within them open the way to outside intervention and expropriation. In particular, they show that gender-based disparities generate dynamics that consolidate the dominance of the market over agricultural relations for they weaken the solidarity between women and men in front of the siege to which the commons are subjected by state business, and international institutions and lead many women to demand a strengthening of the very legal machine upon which land privatization depends. This is a lesson social justice movements need to learn if commons are not to remain pure ideals but are to become an object of struggle. The same movements can learn from the example of the women who instead of turning to the law, opt for direct action, farming on public land, thus subverting the neoliberal attempt to put a monetary gate around all natural resources and reaffirming the principle the earth is our common.

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Rights, Land Rights, Property Rights Regions: Africa

Year: 2011

Bananas, Beaches and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics


Enloe, Cynthia. 2000. Bananas, Beaches and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International PoliticsBerkeley: University of California.

Author: Cynthia Enloe

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Political Economies, Political Participation

Year: 2000

Teaching about Trafficking: Opportunities and Challenges for Critical Engagement


Dragiewicz, Molly. 2008. "Teaching about Trafficking: Opportunities and Challenges for Critical Engagement." Feminist Teacher 18 (3): 185-201. 

Author: Molly Dragiewicz

Keywords: human trafficking, feminist teachers, resources


  • In this article, Dragiewicz presents a case for why feminist teachers should teach about human trafficking, and shares some of the resources and tactics that were useful to her in teaching this course. She discusses the debate between various feminist stances that divides the issue, and the different approaches that are commonly taken towards finding a solution (i.e. anti-prostitution, “end demand,” and human rights-based approaches). 

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Women, Rights, Human Rights, Trafficking, Human Trafficking

Year: 2008

Mind the Gap: Where Feminist Theory Failed to Meet Development Practice - A Missed Opportunity in Bosnia and Herzegovina


Walsh, Martha. 1998. "Mind the Gap: Where Feminist Theory Failed to Meet Development Practice - A Missed Opportunity in Bosnia and Herzegovina." European Journal of Women's Studies 5 (3): 329-43.

Author: Martha Walsh

Topics: Development, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gender Analysis, Post-Conflict Reconstruction Regions: Europe, Balkans Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina

Year: 1998

Peacebuilding and Reconstruction with Women: Reflections on Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine


Moghadam, Valentine. 2005. “Peacebuilding and Reconstruction with Women: Reflections on Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine.” Development 48 (3): 63-72.

Author: Valentine Moghadam


Valentine M. Moghadam looks at feminist insights into violence, conflict, peacebuilding, and women's rights, as well as developments in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Palestine, to make the case for the involvement of women and the integration of gender into all phases of conflict resolution and post-conflict reconstruction and governance.

Keywords: womens rights, conflict resolution, post-conflict governance, post-conflict reconstruction

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Governance, Post-conflict Governance, Peacebuilding, Peace Processes, Political Participation, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Rights, Women's Rights, Security, Violence Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine / Occupied Palestinian Territories

Year: 2005

Human Rights, the Sex Industry and Foreign Troops: Feminist Analysis of Nationalism in Japan, South Korea and the Philippines


Zimelis, Andris. 2009. "Human Rights, the Sex Industry and Foreign Troops: Feminist Analysis of Nationalism in Japan, South Korea and the Philippines." Cooperation and Conflict 44 (1): 51-71.

Author: Andris Zimelis


This article explores the relationship between prostitution, nationalism and foreign policies using a feminist analysis framework. Although scholars have dealt with the theoretical role of women in nationalist projects, there is little work factually supporting these theories. There is also a paucity of works demonstrating the role of prostitution in national security policies. This article rectifies these shortcomings and demonstrates that, although prostitution is illegal in Japan, South Korea and the Philippines, these governments have played an active role in supporting and maintaining the prostitution industry geared at servicing US troops. The US troops, in turn, have protected the national security of each of these countries for all of the post-Second World War era. In this context, it seems clear that 'national security' does not include the physical, economic, legal and social insecurity of Japanese, Korean and Filipino women despite their contribution to the most quintessential Realist policy - national security. 

Keywords: nationalism, national interest, prostitution, human rights, sex industry, US troops, foreign policy

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Women, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Nationalism, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights, Security, Trafficking, Sex Trafficking Regions: Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Japan, Philippines, South Korea

Year: 2009

Running from the Rescuers: New US Crusades Against Sex Trafficking and the Rhetoric of Abolition


Soderlund, Gretchen. 2005. "Running from the Rescuers: New US Crusades Against Sex Trafficking and the Rhetoric of Abolition." NWSA Journal 17 (3): 64-87.

Author: Gretchen Soderlund


This article analyzes recent developments in U.S. anti-sex trafficking rhetoric and practices. In particular, it traces how pre-9/11 abolitionist legal frameworks have been redeployed in the context of regime change from the Clinton to Bush administrations. In the current political context, combating the traffic in women has become a common denominator political issue, uniting people across the political and religious spectrum against a seemingly indisputable act of oppression and exploitation. However, this essay argues that feminists should be the first to interrogate and critique the premises underlying many claims about global sex trafficking, as well as recent U.S. -based efforts to rescue prostitutes. It places the current raid-and-rehabilitation method of curbing sex trafficking within the broader context of Bush administration and conservative religious approaches to dealing with gender and sexuality on the international scene. 

Keywords: accountability, feminist perspectives, national interest, sex trafficking, prostitution, Bush administration

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Women, Justice, Sexual Violence, Sexual Slavery, Sexuality, Trafficking, Sex Trafficking Regions: Americas, North America Countries: United States of America

Year: 2005


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