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While formal peacebuilding initiatives have overwhelmingly focused on shifting men’s relationship to violence, the scholarship on peacebuilding has only recently begun to address the role of masculinities. Academic critiques have suggested that although programs tend to frame their goals as being gender-neutral, they rely on implicit understandings of the relationship between men, masculinity and practices of violence. Simultaneously there has been a rapid growth of programs that attempt to shift notions of masculinity in conflict-affected communities. These initiatives may not be framed in terms of peacebuilding, but directly work with men in conflict-affected sites to shift violent masculinities. This seminar explores the relationship between these two developments, arguing that there need to be more holistic and theoretically robust accounts of peacebuilding and masculinity transformation. Drawing on fieldwork in Fiji and Aceh the presentation will argue against the development of separate ‘masculinities and peace’ programming. In each case, it will be shown that masculinity programming and peacebuilding initiatives both risk stigmatising marginalised men while securing the hegemony of oppressive militarised elites. Such an approach has served to marginalise women within peace programming while failing to address the gendered dynamics of conflict.
Dr David Duriesmith is a UQ Development Fellow in the School of Political Science & International Studies, University of Queensland. He works on masculinities and peacebuilding with a direct focus on masculinity programs and violence prevention. His PhD examined the role of masculinity in constructing new wars. David’s research explores large-scale conceptual problems within security with a particular emphasis on the social and structural role of gender. By examining the breakdown of relationships between groups of men in Sierra Leone and South Sudan, he found that the emergence of virulent conflict during the 1990s could be conceptualised as a form of aggressive gender politics challenging the prevailing gender order.