Unpacking War & Conflict: Two Books about Human Security in International Relations

By Bicicchi, Rachel | Resources for Gender and Women's Studies: A Feminist Review, Summer 2016 | Go to article overview

Unpacking War & Conflict: Two Books about Human Security in International Relations


Bicicchi, Rachel, Resources for Gender and Women's Studies: A Feminist Review


Laura Sjoberg, GENDER, WAR, & CONFLICT. Polity, 2014. (Gender & Global Politics series.) 240p. bibl. index, pap., $22.95, ISBN 978-074566028.

Aili Mari Tripp, Myra Marx Ferree, & Christina Ewig, eds., GENDER, VIOLENCE, & HUMAN SECURITY: CRITICAL FEMINIST PERSPECTIVES. New York University Press, 2013. 336p. notes, index, pap., $27.00, ISBN 978-081476345.

In the field of international relations (IR), the relatively new concept of human security, which is discussed in both books reviewed here, is used as a framework to unpack and examine the roles that violence, conflict, and war play in the daily lives of people around the world. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) first defined the term in 1994, (1) and it has been important for understanding the impact of wars and conflicts on ordinary citizens.

Unlike the traditional policy development or IR approaches to war --both of which focus primarily on the state's agency or actions in making war and rebuilding from it--the human security approach focuses on individuals. The UNDP stated that the goal of human security was to ensure freedom from fear and freedom from want, focusing on seven threats to human security not usually recognized in the frameworks of human rights, human development, or state security: economic, food, health, environment, personal, community, and political threats. (2)

Laura Sjoberg begins Gender, War, & Conflict with a critique of traditional definitions of war, noting that the concept is fuzzy around the edges. Because those who live at the margins of political society (a category that often includes women) are affected by the social, material, and political destabilization of violence long before and after any "official" war begins and ends (pp. 9-10), Sjoberg introduces the extended term "war and conflict" to call attention to the violence that leads up to, surrounds, and continues after the central theatre of action. Studying conflict, she argues, allows us to look at all the other things that are left out of traditional war analyses--including domestic violence, poverty, and infrastructure damage (pp. 11-12).

While the book is not explicitly labeled a classroom text, that use is clearly one of its intended roles, as each chapter ends with suggestions for further reading (the bibliographic entries include helpful annotations), discussion questions, and key web resources. (3) Chapter 1 very carefully organizes and defines terms, serving as a primer on gender, intersectionality, and feminism. This chapter doesn't offer groundbreaking material to seasoned scholars and activists, but it makes the book ideal for courses in history, political science, and women's and gender studies, because it introduces the terms and their scholarly meanings for those who are unfamiliar with them.

The first chapter also focuses on the limits of academic talk. In the discussion of sex versus gender, for example, Sjoberg notes that there is longstanding disagreement about whether women should try to advance by acting more like men (which may help women be accepted in traditional masculine spaces, but reifies the trope of masculine = good while feminine = bad) or by highlighting the ways they are different from men (an approach that essentializes so-called gender differences even while it resists identifying traditionally feminine qualities as inferior). Even more important is Sjoberg's point that although gender is socially constructed, people live these expectations, these incentive structures, and this violence in their everyday lives; the concepts are not merely words (pp. 6-8).

The inclusion of men in the analysis is another strength of Gender, War, & Conflict. Often, as noted in the introduction, "gender issues" tends to be code for "women's issues," as if men are either genderless or don't have gender-related issues and expectations to worry about (pp. 3-4). Sjoberg also points out in a later chapter that while men are visible in traditional war narratives, masculinity is not usually discussed or unpacked (pp. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Unpacking War & Conflict: Two Books about Human Security in International Relations
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.