GMJ - Guest Editor's Introduction to the Special Issue on Intersections between Performance Studies, Media, Gender, Leadership, and Peace Studies

By Ngunjiri, Faith Wambura; Lengel, Lara | Global Media Journal, Fall 2009 | Go to article overview

GMJ - Guest Editor's Introduction to the Special Issue on Intersections between Performance Studies, Media, Gender, Leadership, and Peace Studies


Ngunjiri, Faith Wambura, Lengel, Lara, Global Media Journal


October 2009

[We must] ask how we might contribute to making the world a more just place. A world not organized around strategic military and economic demands; a place where certain kinds of forces and values that we may still consider important could have an appeal and where there is the peace necessary for discussions, debates, and transformations to occur within communities...Where we seek to be active in the affairs of distant places, can we do so in the spirit of support for those within those communities whose goals are to make women's (and men's) lives better? Can we use a more egalitarian language of alliances, coalitions, and solidarity, instead of salvation?

Lila Abu-Lughod (2002, p. 789)

With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, post-election conflicts in a range of countries including once peaceful Kenya (home country to Dr. Ngunjiri), wars and rumors of war in several regions, and the continuing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, scholarly research in peace studies and conflict resolution has been steadily growing in multiple disciplines. The area of peace and conflict resolution has been of interest in the academic community for more than half a century; several peace research institutes were founded in Europe in the 1950s and 1960s including the International Peace Research Institute, Oslo in Norway, and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute and the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University in Sweden (Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies [Kroc Institute], 2008). More than 400 universities and colleges around the world have started undergraduate and graduate programs in peace studies and conflict resolution (Kroc Institute, 2008).1 Recent conferences such as the one held at the School of Media and Communication at Bowling Green State University on Media, War and Conflict Resolution2 also help to draw scholarly attention to the diverse issues and perspectives surrounding peace studies and conflict resolution. What is new in peace studies and conflict resolution is a focus on women's agency as perpetrators of conflict and agitators against conflict in addition to the traditional focus on their experiences as victims of conflict. Given the growing interest in peace studies generally and women in peace studies specifically, this special issue3 focuses on the interconnections within peace studies and leadership, gender, performance studies, and media studies.

Women's activism in peace building and "making the world a more just place" takes many forms, actions, and performances. According to Anderlini (2007), women engaged in working for peace "bring new perspectives and commitment to issues of conflict prevention, peacemaking, and reconstruction, and the differences they are making" (p. 3). As Ross-Sheriff and Swigonski (2006) observe, "the relationship between women, war and peace is complex and contradictory" (p. 129). As opposed to the historical literature which is often dominated by the perspectives of men and their experiences, the articles in this special issue provide vivid examples of women's agency in different contexts across the globe, using their positionalities to engage in issues of social justice. This focus on women, war, and peace as seen from multiple disciplinary perspectives is necessary, particularly when war is appearing gendered-being fought in homes, in communities, and on women's bodies (Rehn & Sirleaf, 2002).

The articles are interdisciplinary in perspective, the same way that the field of women, war, and peace encompasses multiple disciplines. Key to our understanding of peace and conflict is the realization that peace is not merely the absence of war; rather, it is the presence of justice and respect for human rights. It is also the presence of-according to Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO (2002), as he launched 2001-2010 The International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World-"equity for all as the basis of living together and free from violence" (p. …

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