Masculinities in Times of Crisis
webinar on 18 March 2021
Gender and gender(ed) relations have long been the subject of political imagination and interpretation. This is particularly the case in times of crisis and perceived threats to the nation, when political actors seek to mobilize through a (renewed) emphasis on the importance of the nuclear heteronormative family and traditional gender roles. Within such political tactics and mobilizations, the masculine responsibility to defend the nation is emphasized, while women are told to focus their energies on producing and educating children as well as supporting their husbands in their national duties. These processes are clearly visible in today’s political climate in Europe and the world. In this meeting, three scholars examine the role of (ideological) constructions of ideal and normative masculinities and their alternatives in times of crisis and present two case studies from Southeast-Europe and the Middle East.
Introduction by moderators:
Heleen Touquet, Chair of European Values, University of Antwerp
Philipp Schulz, Researcher at the Institute for Intercultural and International Studies, University of Bremen
The Social Imaginary, Peace and Violent Masculinities
Presentation by Brandon Hamber, John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill Chair in Peace, International Conflict Research Institute (INCORE), Ulster University
Political change is a process of engaging the social imagination, as much as it involves social and economic impacts. This re-imaging of our society in times of crisis and beyond is needless to say deeply gendered, and maps onto understandings of violence, ‘the other’ and social division.
The lecture will explore the continuities and discontinuities in militarized violence into peace time, and the tensions between new (less violent) masculinities and wider inclusive social change. It will be argued that we need to move beyond a preoccupation with preventing violent masculinities from manifesting through using individual psychological understandings, to considering how hidden masculine cultures operate within a variety of hierarchies and social spaces.
Brandon Hamber holds the John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill Chair in Peace at Ulster University based at the International Conflict Research Institute (INCORE). He is also a member of the Transitional Justice Institute at the university, and a Visiting Professor of the African Centre for Migration and Society at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. He has undertaken consulting and research work, and participated in various peace and reconciliation initiatives in Northern Ireland, South Africa, Liberia, Mozambique, Bosnia, Colombia, the Basque Country and Sierra Leone, among others.
Conflict and Gender in Southeast Europe
Lecture by Catherine Baker, Senior Lecturer in 20th Century History, University of Hull
A generation after the end of the Croatian war of independence, when young people’s entire lives as students, citizens and family members have been lived amid what transitional justice advocates hoped would be Croatia’s transition into a society able to separate individual and organisational responsibility for war crimes from the moral significance of a war of self-defence, the predominance of what Dejan Jović has termed the congratulatory and uncritical ‘myth of the Homeland War’ continues to structure Croatian public discourse instead.
One cause of its pervasiveness, this presentation argues, is the extent to which narratives grounded in wartime imaginations of ‘defender’ (soldier) masculinities and contentions emerging from the early postwar production of ‘veteran’ masculinities have become embedded in other sociocultural domains that provide important points of identification for young people as well as what is now their parents’ generation who fought the war; moreover, as queer perspectives remind us, the affective entanglements of such identifications are not even limited to boys and men. The idea of ‘transitional’ justice thus implies much deeper transformations in societal relationships to politicized veteran masculinities, beyond what self-described transitional justice initiatives can achieve on their own.
Catherine Baker is Senior Lecturer in 20th Century History at the University of Hull. She is a specialist in post-Cold War history, international relations and cultural studies, including the post-Yugoslav region in a transnational and global context. Her research projects are connected by an overarching interest in the politics of representing, narrating and knowing about the past. Catherine’s current projects include relationships between war / the military and popular culture; the cultural politics of international events (including the Eurovision Song Contest); LGBTQ politics and identities since the late Cold War, including queer representation in media; and ‘race’ in the Yugoslav region. She has also researched interpreters / translators in peacekeeping.
“A Time of Masculinity and Men”: Gender-Based Violence in Syria
Lecture by Uğur Ümit Üngör, Professor of History, University of Amsterdam
Within a year, the Syrian uprising in March 2011 developed into a civil war that gradually escalated and within 9 years killed over half a million people, displaced half the country’s prewar population, devastated the economy, and destabilized the entire region, indeed the world. The Syrian civil war split the country into four factions that were continuously at war with each other with intermittent, unstable ceasefires: the Assad regime, the various rebel groups, the Kurds, and ISIS. The dynamic of the violence within and between all of these factions was profoundly gendered, but had different implications for its representation. Western audiences and media outlets marveled in admiration of Kurdish guerilla women while simultaneously condemning ISIS sexual violence against minorities. This juxtaposition went at the expense of a deeper understanding of the broader context of gendered violence in Syria.
In this lecture, Üngör explores how gender-based violence was a major cause and catalyst of the violence in its incipient phase, as well as a constitutive element of the violence once it escalated. It focuses on sexual violence committed by Assad’s paramilitary groups and intelligence agencies, and argues that it served a threefold purpose of traumatization, fraternization, and sectarianization.
Uğur Ümit Üngör (PhD Amsterdam, 2009) is Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Amsterdam and the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust, and Genocide Studies. His main areas of interest are genocide and mass violence, with a particular focus on the modern and contemporary Middle East. He is an editor of the Journal of Perpetrator Research, and coordinator of the Syrian Oral History Project. His publications include Genocide: New Perspectives on its Causes, Courses and Consequences (Amsterdam University Press, 2016, ed.), Confiscation and Destruction: The Young Turk Seizure of Armenian Property (Continuum, 2011), and the award-winning The Making of Modern Turkey: Nation and State in Eastern Anatolia, 1913-1950 (Oxford University Press, 2011). From 2014 to 2019, Üngör coordinated a Dutch Research Council-funded research project on paramilitarism, which led to the monograph Paramilitarism: Mass Violence in the Shadow of the State (Oxford University Press, 2020).
Response (on Male Friendship in the Military in Yugoslavia) by Tanja Petrovic, Research Advisor, Institute of Culture and Memory Studies ZRC SAZU, Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts
Response (on Belonging to a Militarised Syria as a Woman) by Rahaf Aldoughli, Lecturer in Middle Eastern Politics, Department of Politics, Religion and Philosophy, Lancaster University
Conclusion by Stephan Parmentier, Professor Sociology of Crime, Law, and Human Rights, Faculty of Law at KU Leuven and coordinator of the Research Line on Human Rights and Transitional Justice at the Leuven Institute of Criminology
Free entrance, but online registration is mandatory!