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Contending with paradox: feminist investments in gender training

Holvikivi, Aiko ORCID: 0000-0001-7901-1105 (2023) Contending with paradox: feminist investments in gender training. Signs, 48 (3). 533 - 555. ISSN 0097-9740

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Identification Number: 10.1086/723268


State institutions and agencies of global governance increasingly speak the language of feminist concepts. The institutionalization of gender mainstreaming, the adoption of gender policies, the appointment of gender advisors, and the provision of gender training are key ways in which the term gender is taken up by powerful institutions. While some observers see this as an important step toward feminist transformation, critical feminist theorizing warns of the amenability of feminist concepts to become co-opted to serve the status quo. In this essay, I track the travels of the concept of gender to an unlikely setting: the training of military and police peacekeepers. I ask: What political and epistemic work does the concept of gender do when it is taken up by martial institutions? Drawing on participant observation of gender training across a range of sites, I suggest that the politics of gender training are deeply ambivalent: training both reproduces forms of epistemic violence that sustain colonial hierarchies and heterosexist worldviews and involves a practice of small subversions that destabilize hegemonic norms. In order to push our thinking beyond the eminently reasonable but analytically and politically unsatisfactory conclusion that training is both “good” and “bad” feminist politics, I argue for the need to contend with such projects as specifically paradoxical. I advocate for developing analytical modes that attend to a politics of the present and recognize the political worth of subversive engagement and, ultimately, for continuing to contest what work gender can and cannot be made to do.

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: © 2023 The University of Chicago Press.
Divisions: Gender Studies
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Date Deposited: 05 Jul 2021 15:33
Last Modified: 15 Apr 2024 21:54

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