International Conference 2011

Ethnographies of Gender and Conflict

After our successful international conference ´ Ethnographies of Gender and Globalization´  in 2008, LOVA presented another opportunity for researchers to come together in the city of Amsterdam. From 6-8 July, our 2nd international conference took place: ´ Ethnographies of Gender and Conflict´


Conflicts are always about power. Conflicts are therefore intrinsic to all social relationships and interactions and as such they have provided the arena for important social science research. The scholarly attention for gender and conflict is of a much more recent date. These concepts seem to be two sides of the same coin as both are first and foremost about power inequalities and are embedded in social relations and practices. The two nourish and mutually inform each other. Gender constructions shape the way conflicts are worked out. Conflicts confirm, construct and change notions of gender. However, as a conceptual pair gender and conflict are still searching for theoretical ground. As it happens, gender never operates in isolation. For an in-depth understanding of conflicts an analysis of the intersectionality of gender, race/ethnicity, sexuality and class is indispensable. This conference is an exciting platform to highlight innovative debates and theoretical approaches of gender and conflict and to present current research. Feminist anthropology, gender studies and ethnographic research with a gender lens are scholarly practices par excellence that make the interrelationship between gender and conflict comprehensible.

Conflicts have many faces. They are collective or individual, non-violent or violent, concealed or open, sophisticated or aggressive, large or of the smallest scale. Conflicts are manifest in intimate relations, in the workplace, in the public and the private, in the largest war and the smallest controversies between two people. Actors involved in conflicts vary from the most powerful kind such as transnational organizations and nation-states to individual women and men, families and villages. All these actors have in common that the conflicts they create and participate in have a large impact on themselves and everyday life. The ways conflicts are dealt with are as diverse as their actors are: negotiation, coercion, violence, capitulation, war, silent resistance, submission, protests and compliance. Conflicts are everywhere and come in all sorts, but their gendered character means that the outcomes of conflict are different for women and men, that they impact their lives in different ways and that women and men experience conflicts differently.

This conference intended to bring together an interdisciplinary group of scholars with the aim of deepening our theoretical knowledge about gender and conflict. Through the presentation of case-studies and ethnographic research, questions were discussed such as: how are the concepts of gender and conflict related and how does gender intersect with race, sexuality and class in conflicts? How do gender notions construct, confirm and alter conflicts and how in turn do conflicts inform the intersectionality of gender, race/ethnicity, sexuality and class? How do women and men, girls and boys initiate, perceive, deal and solve conflicts and do they do so in different ways? And, last but not least, what can ethnography offer to the field of conflict and conflict studies?