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The False Promise of Gender-Neutrality: A Discourse Analysis of the Feminist Debate in International Relations

Eriksson, Maria LU (2009) SIMT07 20091
Graduate School
Master of Science in Global Studies
Abstract
This Master’s Thesis focuses on the debate between neo-feminism and ’traditional’ IR-feminism that has developed over the past few years in Great Britain. This debate concerns the relationship between feminism and mainstream International Relations, and whether or not gender should be distinguished from feminist theory and added as a variable to mainstream IR theories. Neo-feminist scholars claim that feminism has played out its role; that committing to a study of women and femininity is biased and misrepresentative and that ‘gender’ should be separated from feminism and used in combination with non-feminist theories. ‘Traditional’ IR-feminists, however, claim that neo-feminism reproduces heteronormativity and patriarchal structures in... (More)
This Master’s Thesis focuses on the debate between neo-feminism and ’traditional’ IR-feminism that has developed over the past few years in Great Britain. This debate concerns the relationship between feminism and mainstream International Relations, and whether or not gender should be distinguished from feminist theory and added as a variable to mainstream IR theories. Neo-feminist scholars claim that feminism has played out its role; that committing to a study of women and femininity is biased and misrepresentative and that ‘gender’ should be separated from feminism and used in combination with non-feminist theories. ‘Traditional’ IR-feminists, however, claim that neo-feminism reproduces heteronormativity and patriarchal structures in I/international R/relations, and that the critical project of feminism has far from reached its end. Based on a Butlerian conceptualization of performativity and heteronormativity, and a Foucauldian understanding of power, I develop a theoretical framework which guides my argumentation. In order to make explicit the arguments in this debate, its discursive formation and its effects on the study of international politics, I conduct an internal discourse analysis of texts representative of both approaches. My analysis shows that neo-feminism to a large extent is both informed by, and (re)productive of, heteronormativity. By adding gender to conventional theories of international relations, a ‘gender-neutral’ research is presumed to be possible, something that I strongly refute in this thesis. In line with IR-feminism, I argue for a continued commitment to feminist epistemologies and methodologies as a way of normative critique that has the potential to disrupt the limits of knowledge and presumed stable borders of IR. (Less)
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author
Eriksson, Maria LU
supervisor
organization
course
SIMT07 20091
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
knowledge production, International Relations, performativity, heteronormativity, feminism
language
English
id
1398831
date added to LUP
2009-07-02 09:29:13
date last changed
2011-02-07 16:45:32
@misc{1398831,
  abstract     = {This Master’s Thesis focuses on the debate between neo-feminism and ’traditional’ IR-feminism that has developed over the past few years in Great Britain. This debate concerns the relationship between feminism and mainstream International Relations, and whether or not gender should be distinguished from feminist theory and added as a variable to mainstream IR theories. Neo-feminist scholars claim that feminism has played out its role; that committing to a study of women and femininity is biased and misrepresentative and that ‘gender’ should be separated from feminism and used in combination with non-feminist theories. ‘Traditional’ IR-feminists, however, claim that neo-feminism reproduces heteronormativity and patriarchal structures in I/international R/relations, and that the critical project of feminism has far from reached its end. Based on a Butlerian conceptualization of performativity and heteronormativity, and a Foucauldian understanding of power, I develop a theoretical framework which guides my argumentation. In order to make explicit the arguments in this debate, its discursive formation and its effects on the study of international politics, I conduct an internal discourse analysis of texts representative of both approaches. My analysis shows that neo-feminism to a large extent is both informed by, and (re)productive of, heteronormativity. By adding gender to conventional theories of international relations, a ‘gender-neutral’ research is presumed to be possible, something that I strongly refute in this thesis. In line with IR-feminism, I argue for a continued commitment to feminist epistemologies and methodologies as a way of normative critique that has the potential to disrupt the limits of knowledge and presumed stable borders of IR.},
  author       = {Eriksson, Maria},
  keyword      = {knowledge production,International Relations,performativity,heteronormativity,feminism},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {The False Promise of Gender-Neutrality: A Discourse Analysis of the Feminist Debate in International Relations},
  year         = {2009},
}