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Interview – J. Ann Tickner

Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama with the 2012 IWOC Award Winners, Courtesy US Department of State/WikimediaCommons

This interview was originally published by E-International Relations on 6 March 2016.

J. Ann Tickner is Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the American University. She is also a Professor Emerita at the University of Southern California where she taught for fifteen years before coming to American University. Her principle areas of teaching and research include international theory, peace and security, and feminist approaches to international relations. She served as President of the International Studies Association from 2006-2007. Her books include, A Feminist Voyage Through International Relations (Oxford University Press, 2014), Gendering World Politics: Issues and Approaches in the Post-Cold War Era (Columbia University Press, 2001), Gender in International Relations: Feminist Perspectives on Achieving International Security (Columbia University Press, 1992), and Self-Reliance Versus Power Politics: American and Indian Experiences in Building Nation-States (Columbia University Press, 1987).

Where do you see the most exciting research and debates happening in your field?

I think the most exciting research is being done at the margins by scholars who are pushing the disciplinary boundaries of what we think of as IR into areas such as historical sociology, post-colonialism, race and gender. Although the mainstream US discipline is still quite hegemonic, I believe this hegemony is somewhat on the decline and there is more space for critical perspectives.

There are good revisionist histories that tell non-conventional stories about the origins of the discipline. And there is a great deal of exciting critical work being done by scholars in other parts of the world that attempts to construct an IR that reaches beyond geographical and disciplinary boundaries. The Worlding Beyond the West series edited by Ole Waever and Arlene Tickner and by Tickner and David Blaney is a good example. Other examples are recent work on race, empire and gender. It is quite astonishing how IR has erased imperialism and the anti-colonial struggles of the twentieth century from its historical memory. These are issues that are fueling so many of today’s conflicts.

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Review – Women and Militant Wars: The Politics of Injury

Image: Peter Davis/Flickr

This article was originally published as a book review of Swati Parashar’s Women and Militant Wars: The Politics of Injury by E-International Relations on 14 August 2014.

In her new book, Swati Parashar looks at the subjectivities of militant women in two protracted South Asian conflicts: Kashmir and Sri Lanka. She reveals that women who do not fit the stereotypical bill of wailing victim or mother are silenced by a dominant social discourse, which translates into the absence of women in peace building processes and post-war politics. Parashar draws on her qualitative research, International Relations, feminist literature and a vast number of multidisciplinary sources on gender and war to shed light on the mutual effects of politics and gendered  understandings of female identities and bodies. Her book is divided into several chapters introducing the topic of silencing, gendered nature of wars, issues connected to her fieldwork, her findings from Kashmir and Sri Lanka, and finally the politics of remembering. » More

Mediation Perspectives: Fighting ‘Feminist Fatigue’

Photo: Nancy Pelosi/flickr

Despite decades of advocacy, why are women still so poorly represented at the peace table? In 2012, UN Women reported that women accounted for just four per cent of participants in 31 major peace processes between 1992 and 2011. Why is this number so low despite international mechanisms like United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women?

A partial answer to this question may be found in the shortcomings of certain approaches to promoting women’s rights.  In particular, the effectiveness of some strands of academic and policy literature on women, peace and security (WPS), and related advocacy campaigns that push for greater representation and participation of women at the peace table, can be questioned. » More

Occupying the Patriarchy: Women Seek to Remake Occupy in their Image

Women say no to war

Women at Occupy Wall Street, New York, 30 September 2011. Photo: Cedrus.k/flickr.

Since its inception, feminism has sparked controversy, and eventually developed an image of militancy and extremism. As a result, women who may otherwise agree with feminism’s goals shy away from adopting the label, leading some to argue that feminism was no longer a relevant school of thought for young women. And yet, issues important to the lives of these young women only grew in importance during the recession: gender disparities in wages continue, while women’s unemployment rate stays stubbornly higher than men’s; controversy over the Affordable Care Act targeted women’s basic health care. Suddenly, something changed. Feminism was no longer about burning bras and unshaved legs; young women began rallying—against victims of rape being called sluts, against the scorn of the political right and the savior complex of the political left, and for a complete systemic re-analysis. » More

The ‘X’ Factor

Girl power, photo: Valeria V.G/flickr

“During a crisis a woman can transform very quickly from being a politician to being a human being, and this can be bad”, Minko Gerdjikov, the deputy mayor of Sofia said in response to recent moves by the prime minister of Bulgaria to promote women to high-level positions in government and local administration, according to a New York Times article.

In a country known for its patriarchy and corruption, women, says the Prime Minister Boiko Borisov, are exactly what the country needs as “women are more diligent than men… are less corruptible than men… because they are more risk averse”. In an effort to clean his country’s act Borisov, an unlikely poster boy for the progressive forces in the country, has decided that it is exactly this ‘human’ characteristic that is required to overcome not only Bulgaria’s image problem, but also presumably its real problem of losing, rather embarrassingly, EU funds because of endemic and rampant graft.

To imply that being a ‘human being’ is somehow bad  is a strange assertion not only because it implies that men are somehow less human and better off so, but because it implies that politics and ‘human values’ are incompatible. Politics in a lot of transitional countries are undoubtedly tough, but to categorically negate human values as components of successful and good politics is self-serving from the point of view of those who have a vested interest in the continuation of ‘business as usual’.  Given the tendency for group-think and irrationality in crisis situations in particular, most often in male-dominated groups, should we not celebrate a more nuanced and independent form of deliberation that can come with the ‘human touch’, in women as well as men?

Even if women are more in touch with their humane side (buried deep in hardened male politicians), wired to perhaps see the world from a more communal point of view, does this bear out in the real world? Are women leaders any different when faced with the dilemmas of ruling the world’s countries, cities and communities? In other words, does the ‘X’ factor change anything? » More