Globalization, Militarism and Terrorism: Making Connections with Patriarchy and Colonization

By Hammer, Rhonda | Resources for Feminist Research, January 1, 2003 | Go to article overview

Globalization, Militarism and Terrorism: Making Connections with Patriarchy and Colonization


Hammer, Rhonda, Resources for Feminist Research


This article explores the relationship of "militarism" and what the author calls "family terrorism" and theorizes a multiplicity of forms of violence in terms of relations between individualized, familial, public, nationalized and globalized terrains. It employs critical, dialectical feminist theories which present broad perspectives on terrorism and militarism, highlighting their connections with patriarchal violence and domination in order to address dimensions of militarism and terrorism neglected in many current discussions.

Militarism couldn't get along with just men's willingness to earn their manhood credentials by soldiering; it required women to accept particular assumptions about mothering, marriage, and unskilled work. And if women began to question either the naturalness or the wisdom of such ideas, then militarism relied on public policies to limit women's ability to act on their skepticism.

-- Cynthia Enloe, 1993, p. 253

Cynthia Enloe's words touch upon the heart of the complexities, paradoxes and multidimensional nature of contemporary global terrorisms and militarisms that punctuate the world we live in. Moreover, the multiple realities of women, children and the elderly in regards to the debilitating consequences of terror and militarism are too often underemphasized in discussions of globalization. Examinations of relations between terrorism, militarism, and patriarchy seem to be "unfashionable" and even unthinkable within most popular and many theoretical domains. Yet many critical scholars and activists argue that patriarchialism is fundamental for understanding globalization, terrorisms and colonization, and for helping produce resistance movements against these forms of oppression.

In this paper, I employ critical and dialectical anti-racist feminist theories that present broad perspectives on terrorism and militarism grounded in patriarchal violence and domination. Thus, I hope to address dimensions of terrorism neglected in many current discussions. I also argue for critical global feminist approaches to war and militarization which draw on colonization theories that emphasize the patriarchal nature of terrorism, a terrorism that finds much of its foundations in the familial relations of the so-called domestic sphere and in the public domain and globalized world of neo-liberal capitalism. Hence, I propose the need for the kinds of radical shifts in thinking and praxis that embrace a globalized coalition politics that identifies difference and solidarity, in a dialectical, "both/and" fashion that provides an epistemology of social justice. Instead of one-sided approaches to problems like terrorism or violence against women, "We can instead," as Shahrzad Mojab puts it, "adopt a dialectical approach which recognizes the individuality and particularity of each woman and each feminist movement, each within its specific historical context, but at the same time acknowledges that, even in their uniqueness, they share common struggles against capitalist and precapitalist patriarchy" (1988, p. 27).

Such critical feminist and anticapitalist perspectives must be especially cognizant of the hierarchical nature of a multiplicity of patriarchal relations which include pathological families, overt and blatant segregated communities, governments and businesses, nation states, fundamentalist religious ideologies, and contemporary forms of militarism. These forms of oppression, many argue, are provoking genocidal terrorist policies directed primarily at women, children, and the elderly. I want in this study to indicate connections between the key terms of Globalization; Patriarchalism and Family Terrorism; Alienation and Colonization; and Militarism. Since most of these concepts evoke contested and sometimes ambiguous meanings, due to the complex and often multidimensional experiences they attempt to describe, I will provide brief analytical explications of them and indicate connections between patriarchy, family terrorism, militarism, and colonization which are often overlooked in many analyses. …

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Globalization, Militarism and Terrorism: Making Connections with Patriarchy and Colonization
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