Gendering Rebel Origins: Women as First Movers in Civil War

Research on women’s participation in rebel organizations explores why such groups recruit female members, women’s rationale for joining rebellions, their pathways into these units, and their experiences once they join. Scholars consequently emphasize the conceptual blur of agency and coercion that women face when contributing to rebel groups. But women are not only joiners during wartime, they are also first movers. Women founded or co-founded at least ten rebellions in the post-World War II period, gathering armies, raising funds, and mobilizing supporters into organized armed conflicts of their own design. In this article, I examine women rebel founders’ histories to argue that their pathways into violence are often facilitated by the pre-war, gendered social networks that can also make women effective logisticians. But women founders were also bolstered by unique, legitimizing conditions that helped them overcome gender-exclusionary barriers to entry and upward mobility during war. Moreover, focusing on women as first movers complicates and extends the academic conversation about gender, agency, and political violence.

Queering Gender-Based Violence Scholarship: An Integrated Research Agenda (with Jamie J. Hagen), invitation to revise and resubmit

Research on armed conflict’s gender dynamics has expanded significantly in the past decade. But research in this field pays little attention to sexual orientation and gender identity. Moreover, where scholarship focused on violence against sexual and gender minorities (SGM) during war exist, it is largely divorced from work on gender-based violence (GBV) in conflict-related environments and from sexuality studies. In this article, we integrate these bodies of work and argue for the theoretical expansion of GBV as a conceptual, empirical, and analytic category to study and explain targeted attacks against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. We suggest two theoretical interventions to better equip existing GBV frameworks to explain violence perpetrated against SGM. We argue, first, that violence targeting SGM is gender-based violence, as sexuality and gender identity are integral components of gender; and second, that analyzing gender dynamics adds to our understanding of when, how, and why targeting SGM composes part of an organization’s regulatory ‘repertoire of violence.’ We examine violence in Colombia’s civil war as an illustrative application of our approach and we identify future, fruitful research avenues with important policy implications for studying and responding to GBV during war.