Research Network

Research Network on “Military, War and Gender/Diversity” (MKGD)

 

 

The war in Ukraine, which began in February 2022 with Russia’s attack on Ukrainian territory, the recent conflict in the Middle East triggered by Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel and many other military conflicts in the past and present demonstrate the importance of gender and diversity for our understanding of what is happening. International and national gender research on the military and war emphasizes that the meanings, causes and consequences of military conflicts cannot be understood without taking the analytical category of “gender” into account. The same applies to the functioning and culture of armed forces and their forms of legal and illegal use of military force. The latter also includes sexual and sexualized violence, which has been part of wars to varying degrees and in various forms since antiquity and still is today. But even in times of peace, sexual and sexualized violence has taken place in and by armed forces. Even today, NATO and the German army, the Bundeswehr, like most armed forces, including the troops of UN peacekeeping missions, must take action against inequality and sexual discrimination in their own ranks and try to create more understanding for the topic of gender/diversity.

Research into the topic of military, war and gender/diversity is therefore not only of academic relevance, but also of social and political relevance. However, there are still large gaps in research, particularly in German-speaking countries, but also in the international historical, cultural and social sciences. The research network on military, war and gender/diversity, which was officially founded in Potsdam on 11 March 2024 as part of a kick-off workshop, aims to initiate a change here. Twenty relevant researchers from universities and non-university research institutions in seven countries (Germany, France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland and the USA) have joined the interdisciplinary alliance to date. The Centre for Military History and Social Sciences of the Bundeswehr (ZMSBw) has also joined the research network as a cooperation partner.

Aims and Central Questions

The research network is intended to give the important research field of military, war and gender/diversity in Germany and Europe an academic location and institutional anchoring. The aim is to systematically promote the study of the relationship between gender/diversity, the military and violence as a research approach and subject matter through interdisciplinary, national and international cooperation. The research network should contribute to better networking and regular exchange between experts from various disciplines working in this field in Germany, Europe and the transatlantic region, systematically promote young researchers and develop targeted joint research projects that address important research desiderata in this area. In principle, various degrees and forms of participation in the research network are possible and desirable.

The central question of the research network is what significance the military and war have had and still have as “gender producers” in the past and present, and vice versa, to what extent ideas of gender/diversity have shaped the military and its practices of violence in times of peace and war and still do so today. This question can only be meaningfully addressed in an interdisciplinary manner, which is why historians are working closely with social and cultural scientists in the research network.

The period to be considered is the 17th to 21st centuries. Although the regional framework will be broad, the focus will initially be on Germany and Europe in order to begin working on research desiderata for this regions. In addition, the focus will be on the one hand colonial and imperial expansions that originated in Europe and led to colonial and imperial wars as well as anti-colonial wars of liberation. On the other hand, foreign deployments and international missions, in which the Bundeswehr and other European armies have been increasingly involved since the end of the Cold War, will be analyzed from a gender perspective.

Resources of the Research Network

The resources of the research network are a mailing list (mkgd@lists.unibw.de) and an MKGD website (https://mkgd.hypotheses.org/), as well as an online research colloquium, which will begin in the summer semester of 2024 and will regularly comprise four events in the summer and three in the winter, and will be linked to the University of the Federal Armed Forces Munich. There are also plans for thematic face-to-face workshops in conjunction with a writing workshop for doctoral students, which will take place annually in January with the support of the ZMSBw. Languages are English and German.

The topic of the MKGD online research colloquium in the summer semester 2024 is “Military, War and Gender/Diversity: State of Research and Research Problems.” The first lecture will take place on Monday, 29 April 2024 from 4-6 pm (CET). Prof. em. Dr Claudia Opitz-Belakhal (University of Basel), one of the pioneers of early modern women’s and gender studies on military and war in German-speaking countries, will speak on the topic of “War and Gender in the Early Modern Period (ca. 1400-1800) – A Research Overview”.

For the first thematic workshop, the topic “Geschlecht und Gewalt in Kolonialkriegen, Kolonialherrschaft und antikolonialen Befreiungskämpfen / Gender and Violence in Colonial Wars, Colonial Rule and Anti-colonial Liberation Struggles” is planned. The workshop will take place in January 2025 at the ZMSBw in Potsdam.

 

Academic Directors:

  • Prof. Dr. Isabelle Deflers
    Professor of Early Modern History at the Faculty of Political and Social Sciences, University of the Bundeswehr Munich

  • Prof. Dr Karen Hagemann
    James G. Kenan Distinguished Professor of History and Adjunct Professor of the Curriculum in Peace, War, and Defence, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA
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