The emergence and dynamics of violence-centered masculinities in armed conflicts have been studied extensively. However, research on how these masculinities can be transformed after conflict is still in its infancy. Therefore, our project seeks to address the question of whether and how key instruments of peacebuilding – DDR, SSR, and transitional justice measures (TJM) – contribute to the transformation of violence-centered masculinities. In an exploratory study, we analyze these transformation processes in the three cases of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Uganda.
Our research is located within the broader literature on post-conflict reconstruction and the subfield of masculinities and conflict. The main objective of our research is to contribute to theory development in the field of the transformation of violence-centered masculinities by reconstructing and analyzing selected peacebuilding processes within the framework of multidimensional process studies.
Accordingly, our research question is the following: How can specific peace-building instruments (DDR, SSR, TJM) transform violence-centered masculinities into peace-compatible masculinities after conflict?
We selected Liberia, Sierra Leone and Uganda as cases because there is evidence (1) that the three instruments of peace-building we are focusing on were deployed, (2) that they contributed to the emergence of stable post-conflict societies, and (3) that violence-centered masculinities have been transformed more or less successfully at different levels.
After 14 years of conflict, Liberia has been relatively peaceful since 2003. Its post-conflict reconstruction was characterized by highly structured peace-building instruments like DDR, SSR, and TJM. What makes Liberia special is the crucial role women peace activists (Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace) played in the peace process and its implementation. Hence, the different peace-building instruments widely included questions of gender justice. Additionally, the SSR process included the total dissolution and reconstruction of the Liberian military.
The civil war in Sierra Leone ended in 2002 and was followed by a high level of international engagement in post-conflict reconstruction. Interestingly, TJM was characterized by the internationally led prosecutions via Special Court for Sierra Leone. With regards to SSR, former rebels were integrated into the regular armed forces of Sierra Leone.
The conflict between the Ugandan government and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) ended in 2008. In contrast to Liberia and Sierra Leone, post-conflict reconstruction was characterized by a low engagement of international actors and was far less structured. In Uganda, TJM combined both international prosecution of war criminals and local justice mechanisms. Moreover, former rebels were integrated into the wider security forces while, with regards to SSR, the Ugandan government sought to increase military spending.
Combining conceptualizations of masculinity from gender research and insights from practice theory and the practical turn in IR, we use violence-centered masculinity as umbrella term for configurations of gender practices which roughly refer to the equation of violence with masculinity. Building on previous research on masculinities and violent conflict, we heuristically distinguish between (a) militarized masculinities at the societal level, and (b) military masculinities at the institutional level while acknowledging the fluidity and interactions of these levels. For each case, we aim at parsing the transformation of violence-centered masculinities at the macro- and meso-level and link these changes to the impact of peace-building instruments.
Funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG),
1 October 2019 – 30 September 2022