Gender and Conflict Transformation in Palestine: Between Local and International Agendas
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
Book proposal and contract with publisher in preparation
This thesis takes a gender-sensitive approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and asks whether and how Palestinian women’s different formal and informal political activism in ‘peacebuilding’ and ‘resistance’ can make a contribution to positive sustainable social and political change. Taking a bottom-up qualitative approach to conflict research, and deriving data mainly from in-depth interviews, participant observation and textual analyses, I problematise mainstream international conflict resolution and gender development approaches, revealing their mismatch with the Palestinian reality of prolonged occupation and settler colonialism on the ground. I critique in particular two aspects of mainstream gender and conflict approaches: Firstly, the essentialist feminist assertion that women are better ‘peacemakers’ than men due to their (alleged) more peaceful nature, and, secondly, the ‘liberal’ peace argument that dialogue is the best (and only) way to resolve conflict. These two claims are hardly applicable to the Palestinian context, and their implementation through policy programmes can even block genuine political and social change. Through their tendency to trace the roots of conflict in social gender relations and at the level of identity, they tend to give a distorted depoliticised picture of the conflict. Doing so, they risk alienating local constituencies and might even exacerbate social and political fragmentation. My analysis counters such (mostly western-originated) mainstream gender and conflict initiatives by starting from the local. Proposing a contextualised gender-sensitive approach to conflict transformation, which pays attention to intra-party dynamics such as ‘indigenous’ gender constructions and the political culture of resistance, I trace those forms of female political agency that are able to gain societal support and are conducive to sustainable social and political change. Bridging theoretical insights from the fields of conflict resolution and gender theory and questioning some of their widely held assumptions, I hope to contribute to knowledge in both fields.
Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, Exeter University
Richter-Devroe, S. (2008) “Gender, Culture, and Conflict Resolution in Palestine” Journal of Middle East Women Studies, Vol. 4, No. 2.
Richter-Devroe, S. (2009) “Here it is not about conflict resolution – we can only resist”: Palestinian women’s activism in conflict resolution and nonviolent resistance” in Al-Ali, N. and Pratt, N. (eds) Women & War in the Middle East: Transnational Perspectives, London: Zed Books.
Richter-Devroe, S. (2011) “Palestinian Women’s Everyday Resistance: Between Normality and Normalisation” Journal of International Women's Studies, vol. 12, no. 2.
PhD in Middle East Politics