GenderJust: Truth and Reconciliation Commissions and the Political Economy of Gender Justice
This is the research project that I am currently undertaken thanks to a Marie Curie fellowship.
It looks at the question of why international measures aiming at including women and their voices in transitional justice (TJ) mechanisms are so contested. This research aims at analysing the limitations of Gender Justice (GJ) initiatives in TRCs and resistances to them. My hypothesis is that these limitations can be explained by a double dynamics: a) GJ in TRCs is understood very narrowly, with a focus on measures to protect civil and political rights, forgetting socio-economic dimensions of justice, such as access to resources, compensations, jobs; and b) these norms are rarely reinterpreted and applied in new TRCs through the integration of women’s propositions and lessons learnt from previous TRCs. I challenge existing literature on transnational norm diffusion which falls into the trap of presenting two idealized norm-generating communities (i.e. offical TRCs and women’s advocacy groups) by offering a multidirectional approach that reflects on the diversity of views on both sides drawing on critical peace studies and a feminist theorisation of TJ. This approach also takes seriously the need for an intersectional analysis that will, for example, look at the composition of women’s advocacy groups (which women are represented here?). My aim is twofold: to problematize how those who elaborate global norms in the West and those who implement them on the ground commonly think about gender and justice and to extend our understanding of women’s rights beyond laws and policies to include the ways in which women publicly subvert and resignify gender norms in public spaces. By analysing the cases of Colombia, Liberia, Sierra Leone and South Africa, the research proposes to look into taken for granted and preconceived notions of gender roles and notions of justice.
The life cycle of transnational norms and the power of transnational advocacy networks
My PhD research project explored 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.
I obtained the Prize to the Best PhD Dissertation in Political Science conducted in a Belgium francophone university.
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.