ONGOING PROJECTS

Between liberal norms and authoritarian governance: women’s organizations as peacebuilders in illiberal post-war states

In international peacebuilding policy, women’s organizations are represented as especially important civil society partners in the pursuit of peace. However, while existing literature focuses its critique on frictional encounters between local women’s organizations and international liberal peacebuilding, it has largely overlooked that the majority of post-war settings are authoritarian states. This project explores how women’s organizations negotiate their position between international peacebuilding agendas and authoritarian state governance, and how this shapes their peacebuilding practices. The project covers three cases in Asia, and examines the  everyday experiences of women peace activists using qualitative interviews, participant observation, and document reviews. Bringing together scholarship on feminist peacebuilding and illiberal peacebuilding enables a sophisticated analysis of how women’s organizations experience and respond to frictional encounters, and how their role as peacebuilders is conditioned by the combined impact of international peacebuilding norms and practices, and domestic authoritarian governance. As authoritarianism is the most common regime type in post-war societies, the knowledge generated will have far-reaching implications for peacebuilding research, policy and practice, and generate insights into the changing conditions for civil society in a global political era where illiberalism is on the rise. The project is funded for a three year-period by the Swedish Research Council. The project includes Elisabeth Olivius and Malin Åkebo.

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Gender and Post-War Transitions Research Network (GenPow)

GenPow is a research network aiming to bring together scholars interested in the gendered dynamics and effects of post-war transitions in various empirical contexts. The end of war sets in motion wide-ranging and significant processes of societal change. While these changes are not unidirectional and may not correspond to what people in post-war societies might hope for, post-war transitions are no doubt periods marked by multifaceted and drastic forms of change. All of these transformations are shaped by existing gendered relations of power, and generates gendered effects. GenPow will advance a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary, feminist research agenda that can generate new insights into the interrelated and often contradictory processes of political, economic and social transformations that follow the end of war. The initiation of GenPow is funded by the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences (Riksbankens Jubileumsfond). The network is led by Elisabeth Olivius and Jenny Hedström. If you are interested in joining GenPow, please do not hesitate to contact us!

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The Politics and Effects of Gender Expertise in Peacebuilding

This project explores the politics and effects of gender expertise in peacebuilding in the case of Myanmar. Through interviews with gender experts working for international organizations, donor agencies and NGOs and with activists within the Burmese women's movement, the project analyses the content of gender expertise; the practices and strategies used by gender experts; and the power effects generated by the application of international gender expertise in processes of peacebuilding. In particular, the relationship between international gender expertise and local women's movements and political agendas is examined. This generates new insights into the political effects of the international women, peace and security agenda in relation to local conflict dynamics and relations of power. The project is funded by the Swedish Research Council 2020-2022. The project includes the following researchers: Elisabeth Olivius and Jenny Hedström.

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Varieties of Peace: A Relational Approach

Today’s headlines show that peace in South Africa is very different from peace in Cambodia or Sri Lanka. However, research thus far has not managed to analyze and explain the different varieties of peace that evolve after civil war. We suggest that taking a relational approach to peace seriously is a fruitful avenue for expanding current theoretical frameworks surrounding peace as a concept as well as providing more theoretically grounded empirical work. This project focuses on describing and explaining the varieties of peace from a relational approach in countries such as Cambodia, Myanmar/Burma, South Africa and Sri Lanka. The project is funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond 2020-2022. The project includes the following researchers: project leader Anna Jarstad, Elisabeth Olivius, Johanna Söderström, Malin Åkebo and Nilanjana Premaratna.

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