Gender, Violence and Security

Discourse as Practice

Authored by: Laura J. Shepherd

Categories: The Field of Women, Peace and Security
Sub-Categories: Human Development, International Agreements, Peacemaking, Security Sector Reform (SSR)
Region: No Region
Year: 2008
Citation: Shepherd, Laura J. Gender, Violence and Security : Discourse as Practice. London, Great Britain: Zed Books, 2008.

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Executive Summary

Feminist challenges to the well-defined and equally well-defended boundaries of IR have drawn attention not only to the potential of transgressing those boundaries but also to the importance of understanding (gendered) violence in relation to security. The author seeks to understand the types of body that are marked and made through violence that is specifically gendered. She argues that studying the subjects produced through gendered violence in the context of debates over the meaning and content of security provides more coherent accounts of both violence and security. The notion that identity is central to theorizing security has been well explicated by scholars critical of conventional, state-centric approaches to security. However, most of these critical voices seek to interject into academic debates on security by broadening the accepted agenda of security – to include the recognition of multiple phenomena, from earthquakes to economic deprivation, as threatening to security – and proliferating the referent objects of security discourse, such that security is no longer solely the concern of states but also of communities, societies and individuals. While scholars of security have contested the parameters of debates about security, and feminist scholars of security have drawn attention to the importance of gender as a category of analysis, there is little work being done on the ways in which the organizational logics of security and violence are discursively constituted.