Feminist Security Theorizing

Laura Sjoberg, Jillian Martin

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This essay reviews feminist contributions to the subfield of often called “Security Studies,” which Steve Walt defined as the “study of the threat, use, and control of military force,” including exploring “the conditions that make the use of force more likely, the ways that the use of force affects individuals, states, and societies, and the specific politics that states adopt in order to prepare for, prevent, or engage in war” (1991, 212). The aim of this entry is to chronicle how feminist theorizing has confronted, engaged with, and reformulated Security Studies as a subfield, with theoretical and empirical research. In these efforts, feminists have reconceptualized core concepts, such as security (Elshtain and Tobias 1990), the state (Tickner 1992), violence (Tickner 1992, citing Galtung 1971), militarization (Enloe 1989; 1993) , and peace (Runyan and Peterson 1991, 86). They have also uncovered new empirical knowledge concerning sexual violence in war (Hansen 2000), human trafficking (Lobasz 2009), gendered participation in armed conflict (Grant 1992), the crisis in Bosnia (Zalewski 1995), African peacekeeping operations (Hudson 2000), civil-military relations in Korea (Moon 1997), the wars in Iraq (Sjoberg 2006), the Israel-Palestine conflict (Sharoni 1995; Golan 2007), small arms and light weapons (Cohn and Ruddick 2002), and nuclear proliferation (Das 2005). This essay explores and synthesizes those research efforts.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe International Studies Encyclopedia
EditorsRobert A Denemark, Renée Marlin-Bennett
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9780191842665
ISBN (Print)9781405152389
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


  • gender
  • security
  • feminist security studies
  • feminist IR
  • war
  • conflict

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