Refugees in International Relations

By Alexander Betts; Gil Loescher | Go to book overview

8
Feminist Geopolitics Meets
Refugee Studies

Jennifer Hyndman


ABSTRACT

International relations and refugee studies represent ‘two solitudes’, a situation
this collection aims to remedy. The same can be said for the relationship between
gender and feminist approaches and IR, and between feminist thinking and
refugee studies. This chapter aims to fill in some of these gaps by outlining
salient gender-related approaches in humanitarian operations. In reviewing the
development of gender and feminist thought in IR, an argument for ‘feminist
geopolitics’ is made. This refers to an approach, or analytic, that combines post-
structuralist critique in geopolitics and IR with material feminist theory to
foreground refugees and humanitarianism in international relations. Using
examples from fieldwork, feminist geopolitics is grounded in the ‘everyday’ life-
worlds of refugees. By focusing on refugees, the unit of analysis shifts. Feminist
geopolitics decentres the state, though does not ignore it, and insists upon
multiple scales of security, from the state to the refugee household.

Why have the international politics of forced migration been largely ignored by mainstream international relations (IR)? What might a feminist analysis of displacement and asylum across international borders look like? The chapter begins by addressing these questions and discussing the salient gender-related approaches in humanitarian operations concerning refugees. It then traces the development of gender and feminist thought in IR, and moves on to make an argument for ‘feminist geopolitics’, an approach that combines poststructuralist critique in geopolitics and IR with material feminist theory to foreground refugees and humanitarianism in international relations. Finally, a feminist geopolitical approach is brought to bear on the gendered, racialized, and highly situated violence of war that results in human displacement and on the politics of refugee camps which demand a feminist approach. A feminist geopolitics, or feminist IR, has greater potential to be

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