Current Research

Social resilience after sexual violence in Eastern DRC: from decay over reparations to accountable governance (co-directed) Karen Büscher, UGent, VLIR-UOS TEAM grant, 2022-2027)

Eastern DRC (the Democratic Republic of the Congo) has known over three decades of war and violence in which the population in general and women, in particular, became victimized in a situation of state and societal decay. Increasingly calls are made to initiate a transitional justice policy that should end the vicious cycle of violence and impunity. Aiming to contribute to the latter goal, this project focuses on an often overlooked stage that precedes transitional justice: ongoing, non-state processes of social resilience and reparation. 

Gender, Climate Change and Natural Resource Management (with Caitlin Ryan, University of Groningen, funded by SSHRC Insight Development Grant, 2021-2023 and BOF Grant, 2021-2025)

The UN Sustaining Peace agenda brings together gender inclusivity and good governance of natural resources in a new set of conflict prevention initiatives focused on women’s inclusion in natural resource management(NRM). The UN strategic agenda on ‘Gender, Natural Resources, Climate, and Peace’ is framed around two core assumptions: 1) that NRM provides a good opportunity to increase women’s participation in fragile and conflict-affected settings, particularly in light of climate shocks and 2) that women’s participation in NRM is necessary to prevent conflict in fragile and conflict-affected contexts. With this project, we propose a deeper critical interrogation of what meanings gender equality and women’s empowerment assume in natural resource management initiatives in conflict-affected countries and with what consequences for the design of peacebuilding policies.

MINDS Canada Research Network on Women, Peace and Security (2021-2024)

I am also the Research Lead for the theme Climate Change as a Growing Threat to National Resilience of the MINDS Canada Research Network on Women, Peace and Security, funded by the Canada Department of National Defence.

The impending breakdown of the climate requires urgent policy action. Evidence suggests that climate and ecological emergencies are a massive, multidimensional and gender-differentiated threat to human security. Women often bear the brunt of coping with climate-related shocks because of their assigned roles in many areas of the world – including food management, water procurement, and family caring. Even within the realm of traditional conceptions of security – inter-state and internal armed conflict – climate change can intensify violence through volatile food prices and food insecurity, displacement and migration, and the spread of infectious diseases and epidemics. Peace operations impact the ability of populations to cope with climate change and environmental degradation. We study two main questions: 1) What are the gendered impacts of climate change on security challenges within Canada, and on ongoing and future peacekeeping, stabilization, humanitarian and disaster response missions? 2) How can DND/CAF be proactive in addressing the global collective problem of climate change and supporting  climate-related emergency response both domestically and internationally? We will develop a database of best practices and innovative measures taken by governments and armed forces to ‘greening defence’, ensuring civil and military cooperation in response to climate-generated instability, while paying particular attention to indigenous knowledge and strategies.

The life cycle of transnational norms and the power of transnational advocacy networks (Marie Curie Individual Fellowship, 2017-2019)

My first book project explores gender security discourse in the campaign for the implementation of the UN Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Burundi and Liberia, highlighting how the particular shape of gender security is based on how the past, present and future of post-conflict is understood. I examine the factors that determine the impact of the transnationalisation of local women advocacy campaigns in post-conflict Burundi and Liberia and the evolution of international norms on gender security and gender mainstreaming.

Fieldwork methodology and reflexivity

I have extensive experience doing field research in conflict-affected countries, including field research experience in Burundi, Liberia, DRC and South Africa. I am interested in the power of inductive research and grounded theory methodologies for bringing to the fore the world vision of the research subjects. Feminism and post-structuralism have opened the possibility of including marginalised voices in academic analysis of the world. However, there is a need to avoid a self-appropriation of the voices of the “other”.

I am interested in analysing how the researcher’s discomfort is valuable data in itself which allowed me to recognize my way through the planning and conducting of my research while trying to avoid patterns of domination and abuse of my positionality as a researcher.