This article explores the gendered dynamics of Myanmar’s post-war economic reforms through an analysis of women’s experiences of development in Kayah (Karenni) state. In Myanmar, ceasefires and a reduction of armed violence combined with state-driven economic liberalization reforms are conditioned by, but also contribute to remake, gendered relations of power, privilege and marginalization. While new land legislation and development projects have contributed to loss of land and livelihoods among rural populations in general, our study demonstrates that women living in conflict-affected border areas are disproportionally affected. Drawing on interviews and participant observation, we show how this is directly related to an overarching gendered political economy defined by legacies of conflict, discrimination and uneven processes of development, which positions women as particularly vulnerable to new forms of insecurity, dispossession and depletion generated by post-war economic transformations. We argue that the political and economic legacies of war in the state has produced a gendered division of labor that positions women as responsible for unpaid and underpaid informal and social reproductive labor, weakens women’s access to land, and results in physical, material, and emotional depletion. Through this focus, our study adds to research on development and economic restructuring in post-war contexts in general, and to emergent scholarship on Myanmar’s economic reforms in particular.
Peace can take many different forms and be expressed in a myriad of different ways that go well-beyond “peace as the absence of war”. Though recent scholarly contributions within this vein of research acknowledge the empirical reality of a variety of “peaces”, we are yet to understand how – methodologically – researchers can go about the endeavor of developing tools that allow us to describe and classify varieties of peace. This paper addresses this knowledge gap. It brings attention to different methods for empirically capturing varieties of peace when peace is approached as a situation, as a relationship or as an idea. Though its purpose is to illustrate a “smorgasbord of methods” for analyzing varieties of peace, it also argues that any effort to approach such an analysis ought to be based on theoretically coherent sets of types. This is so because it will allow the researcher to provide a more nuanced picture of different varieties of peace.
Authors: Anna Jarstad, Niklas Eklund, Patrik Johansson, Elisabeth Olivius, Abrak Saati, Dzenan Sahovic, Veronica Strandh, Johanna Söderström, Malin E. Wimelius and Malin Åkebo
Peace studies scholars are increasingly calling for more sophisticated and nuanced conceptual models for exploring peace. A new working paper by the Varieties of Peace team, entitled “Three Approaches to Peace: A Framework for Describing and Exploring Varieties of Peace”, makes an important contribution in this direction. To capture the complexity of peace in its empirical diversity, this framework approaches peace in three different ways: as a situation or condition in a particular locality; as a web of relationships; and as ideas or discourses about what peace is or should be. Thereby the paper points towards fruitful ways forward in advancing conceptual understandings and empirical analyses of peace that can facilitate systematic, comparative, qualitative analyses while at the same time accounting for the complex, multifaceted nature of peace.
The case of Mitrovica in Kosovo as a divided post-war city has been traditionally portrayed as a paradigmatic space where frictional peacebuilding and interethnic violence thrive. In this paper, Jarstad and Segall explore the city beyond the concept of negative peace –this is, the absence of war– and engage in an assessment of the peaceful relations between Kosovo Albanian and Kosovo Serb residents. Through informal conversations, field notes and 15 in-depth interviews, the authors find that despite the overarching conflictual relations there are also multiple strands of everyday peace at the societal level. Even in spaces in the city where a history of violence is entrenched, the situation can seldom be reduced to purely conflictual: casual communication, cooperation on practical matters and co-existence in shared spaces are daily peace acts that prove friendly relations amidst violence and tension.
In this article, Söderström reflects on how veterans’ homecoming experiences play a role in their link with the state and shows how and under what circumstances veteran identities can gradually transform into political identities. By drawing on the life stories of former combatants from three different wars ‒independence fighters from Namibia (SWAPO), guerrillas from Colombia (M-19) and Vietnam veterans in the United States‒ the article explores how these veterans interpret the process of coming home and how they make claims for recognition in relation to three pillars: the society, the state and their peers. The findings reveal that recognition plays a central role in the way these former combatants talk about their lives as political subjects after demobilization, in spite of large differences in the ways each society received each group after the war.
In contexts of war and militarization, gender role dynamics are usually emphasized and feminist agendas are hindered. Women’s roles are oftentimes constructed as the symbolic and material boundaries of ethnic or national identity, leading to the perception of feminist ideas as threatening to the objectives of militarized nationalism. In this article, Olivius and Hedström explore the relationship between feminist mobilization in the context of militarized nationalism, using as a case study the story of the exiled Burmese women’s movement in the borderlands of Myanmar. Through primary interviews and the analysis of movement literature, this study finds that episodes of exiled oppositional politics in the context of armed nationalist struggle can spark feminist organization and activism, and eventually contribute to advancing women’s rights and equality.
How can ceasefires be studied and better understood, and what are their implications for conflict transformation? Through a case study of the ceasefire between the government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Mindanao, Åkebo explores patterns of interactions and changes in relationships between the actors involved. Building on written sources and interviews, the study engages with relational and interactional aspects related to the ceasefire structure and explores how this is shaped by features of the armed conflict, including its territorial dimension and the presence of multiple sources of violence. It shows that continuous engagement in ceasefire in Mindanao has generated high levels of interparty interactions and cooperation and territorial coexistence, what can be termed as a “coexistence ceasefire”.
Does crime exposure impair levels of political knowledge? The literature on crime has focused on its causes as well as its scope, while ignoring how it might influence the practice of political citizenship. Informed citizens are more able to practice their political citizenship. Exploring the impact of experiencing an insecure environment in itself, this article contributes to a deeper understanding of how the citizen responds to crime (burglary and physical attacks). Working memory has limitations and previous research has shown how resource scarcity limits cognitive capacities. This article suggests that crime might produce a situation of security scarcity, i.e. insecurity, which limits cognitive capacity in a similar fashion. This hypothesis is tested in the context of Sub-Saharan Africa, using survey data from the Afrobarometer (Round 4). The findings demonstrate how experiencing a security scarcity decreases political knowledge among male citizens, but not among female citizens.
Ongoing episodes of intensified armed violence and ethnic discrimination in Myanmar have resulted in long-term and large-scale forced displacement. Amid what can be considered a fully fledged humanitarian crisis, the borderlands of Myanmar’s neighbouring countries have turned out to act as a safe haven for political mobilization and oppositional resistance. Such is the case of the Thailand-Myanmar border, where a vibrant and multi-ethnic women’s movement has developed and strengthened since the 1990s. Olivius contributes in this paper to the literature on “acts of citizenship” in situations of forced migration through the exploration of how these Burmese women activists in Thailand engage in insurgent citizenship practices. Through more than fifty interviews with humanitarian workers, NGO representatives and Burmese women activists, this study sheds light upon the diverse nature of acts of citizenship and upon the transformative impact these have beyond the bearing of individual political agency.
Authors: Malin E. Wimelius, Niklas Eklund and Jörgen Elfving
This article is only available in Swedish. Since 2014 an armed conflict is ongoing in the Eastern part of Ukraine, albeit today of low intensity. Over time there have been numerous attempts to reach a truce and a return to status quo ante, among them the Minsk agreements and in the autumn of 2017 the Russian proposal to introduce a peacekeeping force in the conflict area. This proposal raises the questions of the Russian view on peacekeeping operations and its experiences of and capability to carry out such operations, questions which are addressed in this article. Undoubtedly, Russia has a multifaceted capability in this aspect and also a rich experience of peacekeeping, but mainly in the post-Soviet landscape where a common history, culture etc. give Russian peacekeepers certain advantages. On the other hand, the theoretical framework seems less well developed even if peacebuilding, mirotvortjestvo, has emerged as a subject in the Russian debate. When it comes to a peacekeeping operation in Ukraine, like an end to the conflict, it is something that, for differing reasons, seems less likely today.