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Gender, security and reconciliation in post-independence Kosovo Aims and relevance

Konferensbidrag (offentliggjort, men ej förlagsutgivet)
Författare Signe Borch
Publicerad i The Future of Peace Research - an Ever Broadening Agenda.May 5 6 2011
Publiceringsår 2011
Publicerad vid Institutionen för globala studier
Språk en
Ämnesord Gender, security, social space, ethnicity, nationalism, post conflict and reconciliation, Balkans, Kosovo
Ämneskategorier Annan samhällsvetenskap


This Ph.D. project focuses on everyday interaction across boundaries of local Serbs and Albanians in Mitrovica, Kosovo, working towards bridging the ethnic and national gap left by the 1999 war and ongoing territorial conflict, between Serbs and Albanians. Whereas other studies of ethnic division and reconciliation in Kosovo often focus on institutional forums for change, such as schools and curricula (Kostovicova2006), democratisation of national politics (i.e. structural change), not much attention has been granted the social movements (of individual actors) outside the formal institutions and the influence of such movements across boundaries on reconciliation and reconstruction (Fridman2009). Outside the formal and institutional boundaries there may exist informal, social, and symbolic boundaries juxtaposing the division posed by the former. NGO’s have focused on civic and social reconciliation through promoting participation in the democratization of the society and the empowerment of the rule of law (cf. CommunityBuildingMitrovica.org). Working across the river and the ethnic boundaries the divides are less ethnic and national and more characterized by other boundaries such as social and economic possibilities, gender roles, etc. (Fridman2009, Korac1999, Gallucci2011). The analytical focus concerns how processes of identification (national, ethnic, personal/individual, collective), that goes on in the space of interaction the NGO’s provide (Jenkins2004), influence interethnic relations and perceptions of security. I wish to take a gender approach to this; how are gendered identities construed within the NGO and activism space (Gupta and Ferguson) and in turn how these influence social relations? Several NGO’s work cross regionally on ‘Women’s’ issues, such as experiences of sexual abuse, loss of family (husband, sons, and fathers) (Korac, Ferris, Vasilijevic…). Women’s organizations have been center of many attempts at creating sustainable peace due to the general understanding that women are more prone to peace than conflict (Korac, UN2002), and that the promotion of women’s engagement in civil society is one of the key focus areas of internationally instigated conflict resolution and reconciliation work (cf. UNDP projects in the Balkans). However, not much regard has been given the gendered identities of such public positions and how women’s engagement therein influences the women’s perceptions of security, their social relations (and their gendered relations) (cf. Helms2007), nor on the relation between male and female gender roles and identifications within mixed sex organizations and social relations. Politika je Kurva, is a common saying in the former Yugoslavia, meaning politics’ a whore and there is a widespread understanding of the public realm – especially the political realm – as one in which womanhood could easily be compromised (womanhood often symbolizing the purity and sanctity of the nation) (Korac, Fridman, Kostovicova, Ferris, Jansen, Vasilijevic, Duhacek, Krasniqi, Helms, Delpla). Women’s engagement in peace and reconstruction processes may open doors for women activism, but what influence has it on the potential (re)construction of society, or on changing perceptions of (inter/intra-ethnic) security? Inspired by Henrik Vigh’s term of social navigation and Pierre Bourdieu’s concept illusio, the analytical attention is primarily on physical and social behavior, navigation, of and in social terrains, and the way these terrains are construed out of inter-ethnic interaction and social relations, and become embedded with meaning that – in turn - informs perceptions of belonging, security (territorial, national, individual – i.e. illusio).

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