A panel discussion with three LSE academics, exploring emerging issues in the field of Women, Peace and Security
Who Belongs Here? - Dr Megan Armstrong
The production of who belongs and who does not belong to the state is a consistent and central component of its constitution. This project examines the discursive production of the gendered/sexualised/racialized body in understandings of national belonging and how this can produce particular forms of violence and resistance. I apply this framing to empirical illustrations of the understandings of legitimate subjects and belonging in the United Kingdom by examining the FLR(M) visa. These illustrations focus on the production of the “proper” feminine subject and the policing of the feminine in state production.
Dr Megan Armstrong is an LSE Fellow in Gender and Security in the Department of Gender Studies. Her doctoral research (Newcastle University, 2015) developed a conceptual framework for understanding the abject violence that emerges in some cases of violent identity politics through an examination of the brutalisation and the weaponisation of the body. Her ongoing research interests include violent identity politics, the radical right, everyday securitisations and counter-terrorisms, queer international relations, and critical military and feminist security studies. Recent research interests have further included gendered and sexualised processes of bordering, and migration.
Forced Marriage - Dr Hannah Baumeister
This presentation will explore the implications of gender on the causes, forms and ways of addressing forced marriage in times of armed conflict. It will highlight silences surrounding transgressions of gender roles such as women forcing men into marriage and participating in direct combat as well as men being coerced to perpetrate forced marriages. In doing so, the presentation will highlight different forms of forced marriage and their implications for the possibility of and need for a universal legal definition of forced marriage.
Hannah is a Fellow in Gender and Security. Her research focuses on sexualised war violence, its causes, consequences and ways of appropriately addressing it. While her early research examined the psycho-social work with survivors of war rape in the former Yugoslavia, her doctoral research centred on legal responses. It analysed the politics behind the international criminalisation of war rape and forced marriage in times of armed conflict under the statute of the International Criminal Court. It addressed the ongoing challenge of how to define the two crimes in a way that adequately reflects women’s experiences as well as the nature of the crimes. Her broader research interests include the role of civil society in conflict and post-conflict situations, non-violent conflict resolution, and graphic representations, especially of conflicts and women.
Strong NGOs and Weak States: Opportunity and its Discontents for Women’s Rights in Conflict-Affected States - Dr Milli Lake
Scholarship on women in war has typically focused on the devastating and disproportionate toll that armed conflict wreaks on the lives of women. Less studied until recently are the openings and opportunities that follow conflict and political transition, derived from war’s potential to disrupt and fundamentally reorder social relations (Berry 2018; Hughes and Tripp 2015; Lake 2018; Mageza-Barthel 2015). In my book Strong NGOs and Weak States, I evaluate the social, legal, economic and political empowerment opportunities for women that emerge in contexts of state weakness or transition. Through an empirical examination of the prosecution of sexual and gender-based crimes in South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo, I show that state fragility can create openings for human rights nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to influence legal processes in ways that have proved impossible in environments where the state is stronger. Yet exploiting opportunities presented by state fragility to pursue narrow human rights goals invites a host of new challenges. In the Women's Rights After War (WRAW) project, I scrutinize the difference between new opportunities afforded to women, and the extent to which differently situated women can benefit in inegalitarian social orders. Specifically, the WRAW project analyzes how the implementation of women’s empowerment efforts maps onto existing (and sometimes conflict-related) socio-political cleavages. The unequal impacts of rights-based empowerment efforts can create new forms of marginalization, widen the gap between policy and practice, and further deepen some women’s oppression. Policy-makers should thus remain attentive to who benefits from women's empowerment opportunities, and strive for egalitarian access across class, socio-economic and other identity-based fissures.
Milli Lake is an Assistant Professor in International Security in the International Relations Department at the London School of Economics. Her research examines questions of state-building, institutional reform, (in)security and political violence in post-conflict and post-colonial states, predominantly in sub-Saharan Africa. Her first book: Strong NGOs and Weak States (Cambridge University Press 2018) explores the challenges and opportunities faced by activists and organizations pursuing gender justice in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa. Her research is published in International Organization, Law and Society Review, International Studies Quarterly, World Development, the Annual Review of Law and Social Science and PS: Political Science & Politics among other outlets. Prior to joining the London School of Economics, Dr. Lake was an Assistant Professor at Arizona University’s School of Politics and Global Studies. She has also worked for the International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute, Save the Children, the World Bank's Gender Innovation Lab, the International Law and Policy Institute, and the University of Washington's Voices from the Rwanda Tribunal project. She completed her Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of Washington in 2014.
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