Gendered Power Relations

Preemptive Strikes: Women Strike for Peace, Antinuclear Pacifism, and the Movement for a Biological Democracy, 1961–1963.


Ross, Andrew J. 2021. “Preemptive Strikes: Women Strike for Peace, Antinuclear Pacifism, and the Movement for a Biological Democracy, 1961–1963.” Peace & Change 46 (2): 164–82.


Author: Andrew Ross


This article examines the social, political, and environmental features of the Women Strike for Peace (WSP) movement from its inception in 1961 to the passage of the Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT) in 1963. I offer the analytical framework of “biological democracy” as a conceptual bridge between environmental and sociopolitical approaches to WSP. The movement’s gendered critiques of US foreign policymaking, its organizational structure, and its participation in the production and distribution of scientific knowledge demonstrate how progressive women used maternalist discourse to oppose US Cold War policies in the early-1960s. WSP participants leveraged their social proximity to the biological condition of the family as “givers and guardians” of life to dissent against the nuclear arms race, heighten female voices within Cold War geopolitics, and increase public awareness of the hazards of radioactive fallout caused by ongoing atmospheric nuclear weapons testing. By coopting conventions of maternalism and domesticity as justification for their cause, WSP women effectively mollified patriarchal and anti-communist attacks as they organized against Cold War militarism and nuclear irradiation. In so doing, they offered a vision of US democracy that responded to individualized, feminine activism and prioritized public health over nuclear armament.

Topics: Gender, Femininity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Political Participation, Weapons /Arms, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Countries: United States of America

Year: 2021

More Bang for Your Buck: Nuclear Weapons and Their Enactment of Colonial and Gendered Power


Urwin, Jessica A. 2016. “More Bang for Your Buck: Nuclear Weapons and Their Enactment of Colonial and Gendered Power.” ANU Undergraduate Research Journal, no. 8.

Author: Jessica A. Urwin


Analysing the nuclear weapons regime through both postcolonial and feminist frameworks demonstrates that the possession of nuclear weapons has incredibly important implications for the security agenda. While both postcolonial and feminist scholars have delved into the relationships between their respective disciplines and the dynamics of the nuclear weapons regime, gaps in the scholarship ensure that postcolonial feminist critiques of the regime are lacking. This article endeavours to combine postcolonial and feminist critiques to demonstrate how the nuclear weapons regime is underpinned by pertinent gendered and colonial assumptions. These assumptions ensure that certain states are prioritised over others; namely, the behaviour of nuclear weapons states is considered more legitimate than that of ‘rogue states’, their desire for nuclear weapons hinged upon racial, colonial and gendered assumptions of legitimacy. Closely analysing the gendered and colonial dynamics of the nuclear weapons regime sheds light upon how patriarchy and imperialism have shaped the security agenda in regard to nuclear weapons.

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Femininity/ies, Gender Analysis, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Peace and Security, Security, Weapons /Arms, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Countries: India, Pakistan, United States of America

Year: 2016

Radioactive Masculinity: How the Anxious Postcolonial Learnt to Love and Live in Fear of the Nuclear Bomb


Roy, Dibyadyuti. 2016. “Radioactive Masculinity: How the Anxious Postcolonial Learnt to Love and Live in Fear of the Nuclear Bomb.” PhD diss., West Virginia University.

Author: Dibyadyuti Roy


Radioactive Masculinity explores how the Cold War legacy, of nuclear weapons finding resonance in images of white maleness and masculinity, results in anxious hypermasculine performances. These discursive and physical masculine acts contingent on the symbolic and material power of nuclear weapons, I argue, represent radioactive masculinity, a form of hegemonic militarized masculinity, which is intrinsically linked to the concept of nationhood and sovereignty. This idealized masculinity is fluid and cannot be tangibly or materially realized, much like the constantly decaying radioactive bomb on which it is modeled. Through analyzing a wide range of artifacts from America and India, I show that the anxieties of radioactive masculinity produce belligerent masculine performances, which are always volatile and unsuccessful. While existent scholarship has examined the gendered nature of nuclear technology, the cultural effect of unexploded nuclear weapons has been seldom researched. My project remedies this gap by locating physical and cultural sites in America and India, where the materiality of the bomb is made visible through its associations with male corporeality. This relationship, I argue, is indispensable toward understanding both the continued legacy of the Cold War within the Indian subcontinent, as well as its effects on postcolonial subjectivities.

The dissertation begins with an introductory chapter that chronicles the rise of radioactive masculinity within the American military-industrial complex. Here, I analyze official US government documents and related materials, which perform the equation of the bomb to the hardened white male body. I show that while nuclear technology is not inherently gendered, both the bomb and its production spaces were pre-discursively masculinized in order to counter dual insecurities: of post-Depression era American emasculation and a hypermasculine Nazi Germany. Next, I bring in a comparison to Indian governmental documents to further describe how the transference of American radioactive masculinity into postcolonial spaces creates postcolonial nuclear borderlands, which are co-extensive with all nuclear postcolonial spaces everywhere. Chapter 2 examines the formation of a (pseudo) nuclear public sphere in America— resulting from the crisis in official publicity about the bombin the period following the cessation of above ground testing. By juxtaposing canonical Anglo-American nuclear disaster fiction with postcolonial speculative fiction, Chapters 3 and 4 emphasize that the structures of radioactive masculinity are fluid and not bound to specific spatio-temporal contexts. In Chapter 5, a comparative analysis of Leslie Silko’s Ceremony with postcolonial Indian texts from the eco-conservationist Bishnoi community demonstrate how tactical storytelling challenges the strategic structures of radioactive colonization. My dissertation concludes with an examination of minority anti-nuclear cultural productions, which by challenging the ideology of nuclear nationalism implicit in radioactive masculinity, deconstructs dominant Anglo-American nuclear historiography. By challenging the symbiotic relationship between radioactive masculinity and nuclear nationalism these texts initiate Nucliteracya dynamic multimodal form of literacythat interrogates dominant and official publicity/secrecy about the bomb. (Abstract from original source)


Keywords: radioactive, postcolonial, nuclear bomb, masculinity, gender, post-apocalyptic

Topics: Gender, Gender Analysis, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Weapons /Arms, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Countries: India, United States of America

Year: 2016

Circling the Missiles and Staining Them Red: Feminist Rhetorical Invention and Strategies of Resistance at the Women’s Peace Camp at Greenham Common


Laware, Margaret L. 2004. “Circling the Missiles and Staining Them Red: Feminist Rhetorical Invention and Strategies of Resistance at the Women’s Peace Camp at Greenham Common.” The National Women's Studies Association Journal 16 (3): 18–41.

Author: Margaret Laware


The Women's Peace Camp at Greenham in Newbury, England, survived almost twenty years, from 1981 until 2000, as an extended protest against the placement of nuclear missiles on British soil and provided an innovative and generative space of feminist rhetorical invention. This essay provides an analysis of their evolving protest actions. It looks specifically at the types of feminist rhetorical invention employed-including feminist coding strategies, use of women's bodies as rhetorical topos, and the use of Background symbolism, affirming symbols of women's lives-to create a women-centered community and challenge the patriarchal traditions and symbols that the nuclear missiles represented.

Keywords: background symbolism, embodied rhetoric, feminist coding strategies, feminist peace protest, feminist rhetorical invention, Greenham Commn Women's Peace Camp, menstrual

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Infrastructure, Peace and Security, Weapons /Arms, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Countries: United Kingdom

Year: 2004

Faslane Peace Camp and the Political Economy of the Everyday


Eschle, Catherine. 2016. “Faslane Peace Camp and the Political Economy of the Everyday.” Globalizations 13 (6): 912–14.

Author: Catherine Eschle



"In what ways is ‘the everyday’ reproduced and reconfigured at protest camps? I pursue this question in my current research project, in which protest camps are defined as a ‘place-based social movement strategy that involves both acts of ongoing protest and acts of social reproduction needed to sustain everyday life’ (Feigenbaum, Frenzel, & McCurdy, 2013, p. 12). . . . buttressed by a feminist curiosity about the interconnections between the personal and political, I cling to the view that the reconfiguration of the everyday in protest camps is intrinsic rather than irrelevant to their political effect. In this short piece, I examine how daily life at Faslane Peace Camp, in Scotland, depends upon and fosters the critical interrogation of economic norms" (Eschle 2016, 912).

Topics: Economies, Care Economies, Feminist Economics, Feminisms, Feminist Political Economy, Gender, Gender Roles, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Peace and Security, Peacebuilding, Rights, Women's Rights, Weapons /Arms, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Year: 2016

Gendering Nuclear Disarmament: Identity and Disarmament in Sweden during the Cold War


Rosengren, Emma. 2020. “Gendering Nuclear Disarmament: Identity and Disarmament in Sweden during the Cold War.” PhD diss., Stockholm University.

Author: Emma Rosengren


This dissertation provides new knowledge about gender, nuclear weapons and disarmament. Previous feminist research has shown that in contexts where positive associations are made between military strength, masculinity and nuclear weapon possession, it is hard to imagine nuclear renunciation and disarmament as anything other than potential emasculation or feminization. Meanwhile, empirically based feminist theorization about gender, nuclear renunciation and disarmament remains a blind spot. This dissertation uses Sweden as a case to analyze nuclear weapon renunciation and disarmament from a feminist angle. As one of the countries that had the opportunity to acquire nuclear weapons – and considered doing so for some time – before deciding to become engaged with international disarmament aims instead, Sweden is an interesting case to study. The empirical focus is on disarmament policymaking in relation to the Swedish nuclear weapon debate (1954–1968) and the submarine crisis (1981–1989). The study draws on a broad set of primary sources, ranging from government speeches and parliamentary records to media output including comics and personal correspondence and diaries. Approaching the nuclear weapon debate and the submarine crisis as arenas for debating disarmament policy, and understanding disarmament policymaking as historically situated and marked by gendered, nationalized and sexualized power structures in specific contexts, the dissertation contributes empirical and theoretical insights relevant to feminist IR theory, and to nuclear history and IR studies more broadly. Contrary to previous feminist theorizing about disarmament as associated with femininity and/or emasculation, my findings suggest that Swedish disarmament policy was co-constructed with certain forms of masculinity, and that alternative policy discourses and identity representations were feminized and sidelined to the margins. The dissertation suggests that rather than assuming preconceived linkages between nuclear weapons possession and masculinity on the one hand, and disarmament and femininity on the other, it is necessary to challenge such binary conceptualizations and investigate how masculinities and femininities, and nuclear weapon and disarmament policy, have been co-constructed in specific historical contexts. The opposite, to depart from preconceived conceptualizations about gender and policy not only contributes to the reconstruction of gender, but also rules out alternatives to nuclearized security strategies and nuclearized masculinity. The dissertation provides a methodological and theoretical framework for further research on the making of disarmament policy from a feminist perspective.

Keywords: feminist theory, nuclear disarmament, nuclear weapons, gender nation sexuality, dentity and policy, identity and policy

Topics: Gender, Femininity/ies, Gender Analysis, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Peace and Security, Weapons /Arms, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Countries: Sweden

Year: 2020

Disarming Patriarchy: Feminism and Political Action at Greenham


Roseneil, Sasha. 1995. Disarming Patriarchy: Feminism and Political Action at Greenham. London: Open University Press.

Author: Sasha Roseneil



This text provides a sociological study of the Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp. Using this as a basis, the author examines the ways in which feminists can resist and transform relations of male domination and female subordination. (Summary from WorldCat)

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarism, Peace and Security, Rights, Women's Rights, Weapons /Arms, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Countries: United Kingdom

Year: 1995

The Impacts of Large-Scale Biofuel Production in Rural Communities


Clancy, Joy, and Jon C. Lovett. 2012. "The Impacts of Large-Scale Biofuel Production In Rural Communities." In Biofuels and Rural Poverty, 50-68. Abingdon: Routledge.

Authors: Joy Clancy , Jon C. Lovett



Large-scale biofuel production offers the prospect of product diversification based on either traditional or new crops. Selling a crop to a new market can help spread the risk of price fluctuation on commodity markets and it can provide an outlet for surpluses. These opportunities are seen as particularly important for many of the traditional sugar-producing countries of the Caribbean and Africa since they offer a means to compensate for the lost revenue due to the loss of preferential quotas and a 36 per cent reduction in guaranteed prices under EU sugar reform. There is also the prospect of refining the biofuels in rural areas, hence the value added by converting the raw material into the final product remains local. The delivery path for large-scale production can be on the basis of agri- business plantation grown crops using wage labour or a central processing plant based on outgrowers or a mixture of the two. Refining first generation biofuel crops needs to take place close to the growing sites since the biomass material generally begins to deteriorate rapidly after harvest. This chapter looks at the socio-economic impacts that large-scale biofuel production is bringing to rural areas, in particular impacts on the assets of small-scale farmers and landless people in rural areas who rely on selling their labour, as well as the distribution of benefits in respect of gender. The focus is on biofuels for export markets, while Chapter 6 looks at the possibilities for serving local markets. One of the major criticisms directed at biofuels has been the vulnerability of the poor to rapid expansion by large-scale biofuel programmes, in particular how this expansion affects their access to land. This chapter, therefore, examines the institutional issues related to biofuels and land tenure. (Summary from Original Source)

Topics: Agriculture, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality Regions: Africa, Americas, Caribbean countries, North America, Europe

Year: 2012

Bioenergy Policies in Africa: Mainstreaming Gender amid an Increasing Focus on Biofuels


Molony, Thomas. 2011. "Bioenergy Policies in Africa: Mainstreaming Gender amid an Increasing Focus on Biofuels." Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining 5 (3): 330-41.

Author: Thomas Molony


Many developing countries are now working to update their existing energy strategies and to formulate their bioenergy policies to accommodate rises in domestic and external supply and demand for biofuels. This paper presents a case for mainstreaming gender into African countries’ bioenergy policies, and uses a review of the literature on gender and bioenergy to suggest some important avenues for future research to expand the current poor state of information on gender and the newer issue of biofuels. The paper opens with a brief discussion on the motivation for interest in biofuels in some African countries and suggests that in the integrated global context of biofuels, the conditions that generate inequality between rich and poor remain unchanged. It then discusses equity and energy poverty, and points to the lack of empirical evidence on gender issues relating specifically to biofuels. From this it turns to our knowledge of what the existing state of broader bioenergy use can tell us about bringing gender equity to African national bioenergy policies, and suggests that gender equity can be ‘energized’ through a perspective that focuses as much on social roles and relations between men and women as it does on ascribed responsibilities. National level bioenergy Policy Working Groups (PWGs) are then introduced as having an important role to play in ensuring that gender issues are mainstreamed into bioenergy policy within the context of the increasing focus on biofuels.

Keywords: gender, women, bioenergy, policy, development, Africa

Topics: Agriculture, Development, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Energy Regions: Africa, East Africa, West Africa Countries: Malawi, Mali, Tanzania

Year: 2011

Contract Farming in Mozambique: Implications for Gender Inequalities within and across Rural Households


Navarra, Cecilia. 2019. "Contract Farming in Mozambique: Implications for Gender Inequalities within and across Rural Households" South African Journal of Economics 87 (2): 228-52. 

Author: Cecilia Navarra


This paper analyses the implications of contract farming for gender inequalities in rural Mozambique. Contract farming is often considered one of the major tools of agribusiness development. It broadly includes those arrangements under which producers commit to providing cash crop to a buyer firm. This paper exploits a panel dataset (2002–2005) collected by the Mozambican Ministry of Agriculture among a nationally representative sample of rural households to explore contracts’ implications for gender equality both across and within households. We look at both the participation of female-headed households in contracts and the impact of establishing a contract on a set of intra-household women empowerment indicators. Concerning the first, our results confirm a (small though significant) effect of selection out of contracts of households where a woman is the household’s head. With regard to the second, we expect contrasting effects to be at work: on the one hand, increased income may relax budget constraints improving women’s living conditions, and on the other, we may expect a shift in favour of men of the control over the household’s assets. We find different results according to the indicator used; after controlling for selection bias, we find no effect on control over land but a negative effect on women’s access to extension services.

Keywords: contract farming, gender inequalities, women empowerment, Mozambique, propensity score matching

Topics: Agriculture, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Households Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Mozambique

Year: 2019


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