Performing gender in the ‘theatre of war’: embodying the invasion, counterinsurgency and exit strategy in Afghanistan

Dyvik, Synne Laastad (2013) Performing gender in the ‘theatre of war’: embodying the invasion, counterinsurgency and exit strategy in Afghanistan. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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This thesis offers a critical feminist reading of the war in Afghanistan, from invasion, through the practice of counterinsurgency, to the training of the Afghan National Army as a central part of NATO’s exit strategy. Empirically it focuses on the discourses, policies and practices of the US and Norwegian militaries in Afghanistan. It draws on a range of material including military doctrine and policy, parliamentary discussions, public policy documents, interviews, political statements and soldiers’ memoirs.

Deploying the theoretical framework of performative gender with an emphasis on embodiment, it shows how
particular gendered bodies are called into being and how the distinct practices of war in Afghanistan produce and
rely on a series of multiple, fluid and, at times, contradictory performances of masculinity and femininity. It demonstrates how gendered performances should not be considered superfluous, but rather integral to the practices of war. It illustrates this, first, by examining the production of the (in) visible ‘body in the burqa’ alongside the ‘protective masculinity’ of Western politicians in the legitimation of the invasion; second, through the ‘soldier-­‐scholars’, ‘warriors’ and the Female Engagement Teams (FETs) in practices of ‘population­‐centric’ counterinsurgency, examining the ways in which counterinsurgency is a gendered and embodied practice; and third, through the remaking of the fledgling Afghan National Army (ANA) recruits in the NATO exit strategy.

The thesis furthers feminist studies on gender and war in International Relations by emphasising the multiplicity of gendered bodies and performances by problematizing singular notions of masculinity and femininity. It contributes to existing literature that reads the war in Afghanistan as a neocolonial and biopolitical practice, enhancing these readings by paying attention to the gendering of bodies and their performances, thereby expanding critical investigations into late modern ways of war and counterinsurgency.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Relations
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DS History of Asia > DS350 Afghanistan
J Political Science > JZ International relations > JZ1305 Scope of international relations. Political theory. Diplomacy > JZ1464 Scope of international relations with regard to countries, territories, regions, etc.
J Political Science > JZ International relations > JZ6385 The armed conflict. War and order
U Military Science > U Military Science (General) > U021 War. Philosophy. Military sociology
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 01 Nov 2013 12:39
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2015 14:05

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