Center for Global Affairs
Gender in International Affairs: Sex, Power, and Politics
In this seminar we will explore the dynamic relationship between gender and international politics, that is, the role gender plays in the construction of (international) politics/policy and, conversely, how (international) politics serves to construct, reinforce, and police gender roles and identities, and the human body is pressed into the service of the nation-state. We will begin by examining, from a theoretical perspective, how gender is constructed. Then, we will explore specific issues and case studies related to core concepts in IR¿allegedly universal and gender-neutral¿from all over the world that highlight the gendered nature of the international system, including war, security, and peace; women as perpetrators of violence; the debate on women and sexual minorities in the military; how states seek to advance nationalist goals by controlling women¿s bodies and using homophobia as a tool to construct a national identity (Russia, Uganda, Jamaica, South Africa); how LGBTQ claims shape international relations; strategies for advancing LGBTQ rights; the gendered character of development policy and women¿s leadership in global climate justice; and how globalization affects women¿and exploits women¿s bodies¿in the form of labor migration, the global care chain, sex trafficking, sex tourism, and commercial surrogacy. In the third part, we will highlight some of the many ways in which women self-empower and resist patriarchy through re-claiming public spaces, language, fashion, and practical capacity-building. Prominently, we will feature examples of how women and LGBTQ people are transcending the label of ¿victim,¿ have organized, domestically and transnationally, to challenge and undo these structures of oppression, exploitation, and subordination as autonomous agents of political, social, economic, legal and cultural change, as well as how men around the world can and do participate as allies in the struggle for equality and justice. Most important, throughout the seminar, we will critically question¿and de-center¿the supposed universality of privileged, often Western, understandings of feminist empowerment and disempowerment and read diverse and marginalized voices of black, Latinx, and indigenous feminist scholars and activists. Intersectionality as well as the political economic ¿benefits¿ of gender discrimination and GBV for a patriarchal, capitalist system are, I suggest, the key lenses through which to both understand and dismantle gender discrimination, and we will be using them as frameworks for our analysis throughout the course.