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Knowing Masculinities in Armed Conflict?: Reflections from Research in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Chapter in book
Authors Maria Eriksson Baaz
Maria Stern
Published in The Oxford handbook of gender and conflict / edited by Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Naomi Cahn, Dina Francesca Haynes and Nahla Valji.
Pages 532-545
ISBN 9780199300983
Publisher Oxford University Press
Place of publication Oxford
Publication year 2018
Published at School of Global Studies, Peace and Development Research
Gothenburg Centre for Globalization and Development (GCGD)
School of Global Studies
Pages 532-545
Language en
Keywords Democratic Republic of Congo, Congolese military, emasculation, militarized masculinity, gender, militarization, war, sexual violence, rape, soldier
Subject categories Sociology, Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified, Political Science, Gender Studies


Drawing on interviews and ethnographic fieldwork with members of the Congolese military, this chapter explores conceptions of militarized masculinity, particularly in the context of sexual violence perpetrated by Congolese government forces during the protracted conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The chapter opens with a review of the feminist research regarding the interconnectedness of gender, militarization, and war, comparing these theories with the conceptions of masculinity articulated by Congolese soldiers. While portions of the interviews were consistent with prevailing research framings, the chapter documents various points of dissonance. These include differences in the articulation of what characteristics make one a “good soldier”; the recurring articulations of vulnerability and failure; and a perception of rape as the action of an emasculated man. The chapter concludes with the authors’ reflection on their experience carrying out their research and the ethics of research in a post-colonial context.

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