Witnessing the Protection Racket: Rethinking Justice in/of Wars through Gendered Lenses

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Using as a starting point both feminist critiques of just war theorizing and feminist reconstructions of traditional theoretical approaches to the concept, causes, and consequences of war(s), this article looks to outline a feminist approach to re-theorizing war ethics that explicitly accounts for and rejects the current gender biases it creates and reifies. It begins by suggesting that the just war tradition is conceptually and empirically inseparable from gendered notions of warfare, which gender security and securitize gender. Therefore, it suggests, war ethics through gender lenses need to be rebuilt from the ground up, paying attention to the heretofore gendered nature not only of war ethics, but also of war justificatory narratives, war practices, and war experiences.The article suggests a dialectical hermeneutic framework for feminist war ethics as a basis for theorizing forward from the longstanding feminist recognition that the very concept of warfare is gendered, relying on Robin Schott’s (2008) work on witness as a theoretical basis. After outlining this approach generally, the paper concludes by sketching out an example of the potential for a feminist approach to war ethics in action, examining the use WBI scanners in airport security assemblages.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-384
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Politics
Early online date11 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016


  • witness
  • gender
  • just war
  • visibility
  • security
  • feminist IR

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