Gender, Militarization, and Endemic Conflict: New Research Agendas

April 2011

With the escalation of major political conflict around the globe, there are now entire generations of people who, born into conflict, have never known peace in any meaningful sense. Rather, “peace” comes to be seen as the de-escalation, not cessation, of conflict. The prevalence of ongoing, low-intensity conflict around the world has meant that the distinctions between conflict and post-conflict societies are less and less meaningful, forcing a change in how we conceptualize the very relationship of violence to society. A weighty literature on “terrorist” or “revolutionary” movements often sees only one side of the problem. State militarization—through the continued presence of weapons, military bases, equipment, and troops—physically occupies territory. “Endemic conflict” can be identified by the presence of state control and domination of people and territory—through the exercise of exceptional powers, acts, and/or the standing deployment of military/paramilitary troops in the region—coupled with the presence of organized militant groups struggling for land or political rights. The fact that such conditions exist in constitutional democracies like India, Israel, or Sri Lanka, as well as in countries with long records of military dictatorship (such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, or Turkey), begs for comparison and for reframing the problem through the lens of the social. What specifically are the effects of long-term conflict and militarization upon women, and how does society change through the processes of occupation or militarization?