Program for the Study of Gender and Conflict (PGC)

Program for the Study of Gender and Conflict (PGC)

The Program for the Study of Gender and Conflict is an intellectual community of theorists, researchers and practitioners dedicated to understanding gender and conflict, founded on the recognition of the increasing saliency of gender as a framework for conflict analysis and increasing attention to gender in peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction efforts.   PGC facilitates a number of events, courses and research opportunities throughout the year, and supports students to initiate programs and research. 

Over the past decade, gender has become increasingly important to the work of S-CAR and to the field of conflict analysis and resolution more generally. Research—including work done by S-CAR faculty, students and alumni—shows the wide-ranging gendered effects of conflict and violence, the linkages between conflict and gendered inequalities, and ways cultural concepts of gender influence the dynamics of conflicts.

Intersecting Research, Theory and Practice

Students interested in studying gender at S-CAR are encouraged to join in the academic and extracurricular opportunities offered by PGC, including:

Coursework

CONF 723- Gender and Conflict (offered every Fall semester)

CONF 695- Gender and Violence (offered as a special topic select summer terms)

Advanced Seminar on Gender and Conflict (not for credit- offered in Spring 2013 semester)

Student Association for Gender and Conflict/Gender Working Group

The Student Association for Gender and Conflict undertakes research initiatives, plans events and programs, and serves as a nexus point for students and faculty interested in collaborating on gender focused research and practice opportunities. Information about the group is available athttp://gmu.collegiatelink.net/organization/SAGC. You may also email SAGC Chair Nina Selwan, ninaselwan@gmail.com.

Programs and Events
PGC hosts a speaker series, panel discussions, and brown-bag discussions, and informal ‘shop talks’ for students to share original research on intersections of gender and conflict. A few of the invited speakers for 2012-2013 school year will include Pamela Aall of USIP, provost of USIP’s Academy for International Conflict and Management in Peacebuilding; Dr. Chloe Schwenke, senior advisor of LGBT Policy at USAID; and Jess Goodell, author of Shade It Black: Death and After in Iraq.

Emails and fliers with specific event information will be circulated throughout the year.

Research and Conference Support

Students presenting original papers at academic conferences (international and domestic) may apply for small grants of up to $200 to help cover the costs of conference registration and attendance. To apply email Elizabeth Degi; edegi@gmu.edu.

S-CAR Program for the Study of Gender and Conflict Conference- Spring 2013

Spring 2013 PGC will be hosting its inaugural research conference. S-CAR students are encouraged to submit original research. The CFP for the conference as well as details will be emailed via the S-CAR list-serve within the second week of classes.


Furthering the Field of Gender and Conflict

Over the past decade, gender has become increasingly important to the work of S-CAR and to the field of conflict analysis and resolution more generally. Research—including work done by S-CAR faculty, students and alumni—shows the wide-ranging gendered effects of conflict and violence, the linkages between conflict and gendered inequalities, and ways gendered narratives shape conflict.   Ten years after UN Security Council Resolution 1325 called for the protection of women in conflict zones and the mainstreaming of gender perspectives in peace processes, national and international organizations are increasingly incorporating women’s and gender issues into their practices. Gender is a framework that has moved from the margins to the center of our field.  

At the same time, much of this new attention to gender and conflict is limited by frameworks that conceptualize gender in conflict as ‘what happens to women’ rather than querying the effects of gender on cultural and socioeconomic dynamics that contribute to violent conflict —an “add women and stir” approach pervasive in gender mainstreaming strategies including peacemaking negotiations, legislative quotas and micro-credit programs.  In addition to eschewing from analyses that challenge entrenched elite power structures, these inclusion models solicit women’s participation in pre-figured, ostensibly gender-neutral programs—for example, training them in alternative dispute resolution techniques, or as peacekeepers in armed conflict zones---that fail to seriously consider how reconciliation, or community repair, or reparations for past harms might look substantially different were they to be designed in deeper dialogue with the complex realities of local women’s lives.

Being open to the complex intersections of gender and conflict raises hard questions: What does it mean to “resolve” a conflict or to build “peace”? Who is empowered to define how societies should be organized in the aftermath of conflict? Do resolutions to conflict risk privileging specific groups over others, for example, economic or political elites (mostly male) or those who can position themselves as “gatekeepers,” fluent in the globalizing languages of peace professionals and international aid organizations? How do we balance the importance of protecting women’s rights with the political and moral demands of halting violence by any means possible? Should post-conflict reconstruction programs aim to restore a status quo that may include gendered inequalities, or should they work to redefine the gender imbalances that so often give form and force to conflict?

These are not easy questions to answer. It is often exceedingly difficult to critically engage with peace processes when stopping the devastations of armed violence is a clear and urgent imperative. Procedurally, peace-building, human rights work and social development are often cordoned off in separate program units, allowing conflict resolution initiatives to “leave gender for later,” or “leave it to others,” to be dealt with after peace agreements are inked, free and fair elections are held, and rule of law infrastructures are strengthened.

S-CAR faculty and students have been committed to engaging these questions for over a decade; they have auspiciously positioned the School to further theoretical understandings of the relationship between gender and conflict through research and practice. Their efforts over the past twelve years have laid the groundwork for the next generation of scholars to expand and foster an intellectual engagement with these issues. Moreover, S-CAR’s long-term engagement has yielded a critical mass of S-CAR faculty, students and alumni with expertise to undertake nationally and internationally prominent research and practice opportunities that address the intersections of gender and conflict.  

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