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3.2.2 Gender (in)equality, silence, and marginalization
Thursday, 19/May/2022:
1:00pm - 2:30pm

Session Chair: Rebecca Tiessen

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3.2.2 Gender (in)equality, silence, and marginalization

Chair(s): Laura Parisi (University of Victoria, Canada)

This panel examines the different ways that silence, omissions, exclusions and voice are central to how we understand gender (in)equality, masculinities and marginalization in the day-to-day, in (post)conflict, in occupation, in the media and the SDGs.


Presentations of the Symposium


Unspeakable: Relational methodologies, militarized masculinities and paternal love

Erin Baines
University of British Columbia

This article reflects on three years of research with men who became fathers through the institutionalization of forced marriage in the non-state armed group the Lord’s Resistance Army, and how becoming a father shaped their experiences as soldiers, their decisions to demobilize, and their return home to communities in northern Uganda against whom they committed atrocities. It foregrounds and analyses a key methodological choice from this research: i.e., to take a relational approach to the research encounters in order ease the discomfort of participants who suspected possible retaliation, but also, who expected not to be believed. The article considers the men’s fears and the author’s own discomfort in the overall project through the concept of unspeakability, what Judith Herman refers to as those ‘traumatic events that take place outside socially validated reality’ (1997, 8). How does one come to know beyond what one can imagine, or that which is socially unrecognizable, such as the love of a father who is the perpetrator of great atrocities? What are the methodological and ethical implications of research with participants implicated in war crimes that requires one to suspend the social claim that their experiences are not to be trusted, listened to, or of any consequential concern to peace? Beyond frictions between international and local gender norms, the author interrogates the realm of the unspeakable in which militarized masculinities and paternal love may co-exist, and the possibilities relational feminist methodologies hold in such a project.


Exploring Silence, Voice and the In-between in a Turbulent World: The Zimbabwe Case

Jane Parpart
University of Massachusetts, Boston

In 2019, Swati Parashar and I published Rethinking Silence, Voice and Agency in Contested Terrains, intent on highlighting the importance of silence and contesting assumption that silence has often led to violence and oppression. A new book, entitled Silence, Voice and the In-Between, edited by myself, Aliya Khalid and Georgina Holmes, is exploring the connectivity, interactions and spaces between silence and voice. We argue that in-between spaces can provide sites for rethinking, regrouping and rearticulating the relations/distances between silence and voice. I will explore this topic through Alexander Kanengoni’s Echoing Silences (1997). The book reveals the violence during the Shona-dominated post-independence struggle against the Ndebele people. The novel highlights the importance of silence, voice and in-between moments during efforts to resolve the horrors of war.


Occupied by Nonviolence: Exploring male Palestinian peacebuilders’ public and hidden transcripts related to nonviolent resistance in the West Bank

Emma Swan
University of Ottawa

Liberal peacebuilding (LP) has been the subject of its fair share of critiques. Along with highlighting its neoliberal and Western-centric foundations, scholars have also drawn attention to its disregard for indigenous peace frameworks. Peacebuilding in Palestine is no exception. Based on ethnographic research in the West Bank, this paper examines Orientalist narratives of Palestinian men embedded within the LP framework and highlights the way that men engaged in unarmed resistance have navigated this terrain through the adoption of certain public transcripts which (re)narrate the Palestinian story/experience. I argue that this adoption can be interpreted as an act of critical agency where the silencing of their own beliefs is turned on its head to empower and further their agenda and goals. In this way, representation, knowledge, and silence can be understood as not only tools of colonial control, but also tools for indigenous resistance to Western discourses, narratives, and representations.


Investing in media development: A feminist analysis of the role of funders in facilitating a gender equal media

Sheila Rao
Carleton University

Gender equality in media development necessitates analysis in two areas: first, the capacity to publicly engage with priority development areas through a feminist lens, and second, the advancement of women and gender-diverse people in leadership roles, and as independent media providers. Despite the wide recognition that the degree and nature of engagement of women and gender-diverse people in media is a key indicator of a just and secure cultural life, development policies centred on gender equality rarely consider effective investments into the media landscape.

This paper argues for the inclusion of gender-equal media in feminist policy, and analyzes how development assistance investors could advance efforts towards a transformational change of media ecosystems. The author suggests a realignment of priorities beyond simply increasing women and gender diverse people involved in media, towards a restructuring of the media ecosystem that guarantees content creation, collaboration and context-specific strategies aimed at supporting a just and secure society for everyone.


Silences and Omissions in SDG #5: Knowledge Sharing through Policy Rhetoric

Laura Parisi
University of Victoria

The SDGs are premised on the idea of “leaving no one behind.” While the consultation process for the development of SDG#5 (Gender Equality and the Empowerment of all Women) was more inclusive and incorporated diverse forms of knowledge from civil society, scholars, international organizations, and intergovernmental agencies, I suggest that SDG #5 does leave people behind through the ways that gender, sexuality, family, labour, and disability are framed and/or omitted. This has implications for how knowledge is shared and produced through indicator frameworks and the implementation of SDG#5.

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