Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

Gender Dimensions in Geo-Spatial Security Research: Disciplinary Confrontations

Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

Gender Dimensions in Geo-Spatial Security Research: Disciplinary Confrontations

Article excerpt

Abstract

Several EU policy papers have called for an improved dialogue between security policymakers, social science researchers and science and technology researchers working on security (Pullinger, 2006). To increase the understanding of gender dimensions in security, the traditional technological response can be complemented by socio-political knowledge. Gender inequities in the socio-economic and political spheres can be analysed by such a comprehensive socio-political and technological approach. In the field of geo-spatial security research, Hyndman (2004) proposes to bridge a gap between gender studies and geographical analysis of security. In this paper, a workshop is used to illustrate both the potential and the difficulties of such a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach. The workshop aim was to define a geographical and spatial analysis of gender dimensions in security. This paper discusses the gender dimensions in geo-spatial analysis, as well as the pros and cons of an interdisciplinary approach. Integrating the overall complexity of gender dimensions as a spatial component in security monitoring is a promising challenge, but is still to be achieved by the technological community. This paper explains the epistemological and methodological issues and opportunities of this dialogue.

Keywords: Security research, Security concepts, gender dimensions, geo-spatial technology, interdisciplinarity

Introduction

Several important policy papers on security research have called for an improved dialogue between security policymakers, social science researchers and science and technology researchers working on security. Such dialogue is envisaged for a timely research response to global security challenges and security research policy demands (Pullinger 2006, European Commission 2004, European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee 2005).

This paper illustrates both the potential and the difficulties of improving the dialogue between socio-political scientists and technological scientists in order to create a common understanding of gender dimensions of security. It is a challenge to integrate the overall complexity of the gender dimension as a geo-spatial component in security monitoring. This challenge requires that the technological community understand the gender dimensions in security. A common understanding cannot be achieved without a real dialogue between communities.

Our sociopolitical and technological analysis takes as case study of this dialogue the experience of a workshop on Gender and Security. The workshop was organized by the Global Monitoring of Security and Stability Network of Excellence (GMOSS). GMOSS is funded by the European Commission (EC). The workshop brought together two communities of scientists: GMOSS technological scientists using Earth Observation (EO) data and socio-political scientists specialized in gender studies. The socio-political scientists were expected to define the gender dimensions of common security issues. GMOSS technological scientists were expected to introduce gender dimensions in their technological and geospatial analysis of security. The ideal result would have been integration of socio-political concepts in EO applications and technologies.

The expected dialogue was based on the concept of demand and supply driven work flow between socio-political and technological scientists in the GMOSS Network of Excellence. This concept was adapted to gender studies for the workshop (see Fig. 1). On one side, socio-political scientists had to analyze policy demands and threat scenarios to transmit decision makers' needs to technological scientists. On the other side of the flow, the existing technologies of geographical information systems and earth observation had to address socio-political questions.

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

To foster the dialogue, four questions were asked to both communities during the workshop. …

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