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Title [sv]
Feminister, etno-nationalister och fredsaktivister? Vilken roll spelar kvinnoorganisationer i diasporan för fredsbyggande i Burma?
Title [en]
Feminists, Ethno-nationalists and Peace Activists? The Role of Diasporic Minority Women?s Organizations in Burma?s Conflict Transformation Process
Abstract [en]
The ways in which diaspora communities engage with and affect conflicts and peace processes in their former home countries have in recent years been the focus of increasing scholarly attention. It has been noted that diaspora involvement can fuel violence and prolong conflict, but also support peace initiatives and positive social change. However, the growing body of research examining the different ways in which diasporas engage in conflicts and peacebuilding has remained overwhelmingly gender blind; very little is known about women?s political activism in the diaspora, or about the gendered impacts of diaspora engagements in homeland conflicts and peace processes. Addressing this research gap, the project outlined in this proposal examines the activism of diasporic minority women?s organizations and its impact on conflict transformation and peacebuilding in Burma. In the past few years, Burma has initiated a number of political reforms, taking significant steps towards democratization after 60 years of military rule. In addition, political reforms has been accompanied by a number of peace process which has managed to halt fighting in much of the country, a promising development in a civil war that has been ongoing throughout most of independent Burma?s history.The project will answer three research questions: 1) How do diasporic minority women?s organizations engage with the process of conflict transformation in Burma? 2) How and to what extent do they influence the content and outcomes of processes of conflict resolution, democratic transition and peacebuilding? 3) How does the activism of diasporic minority women?s organizations contribute to reshape conceptions of gender, ethnicity and nation? By answering these research questions, this project will contribute to address a significant research gap through approaching diaspora engagement in homeland conflicts as a gendered phenomenon, structured by gendered relations of power but also potentially contributing to reshape gender orders in the homeland. Further, in the context of ongoing changes, this projects will contribute with highly timely new knowledge about the gendered dynamics of political transition and conflict transformation in Burma. The project will rely on a qualitative case study design and examine three Burmese minority women?s organizations based in Thailand and Bangladesh. The activism of these organizations will be studied through qualitative interviews with activists; participant observation of the daily work of organizations as well as of specific campaigns and events; and reports and other forms of written materials from women?s organizations. In addition, Burmese English-language media coverage as well as international media coverage of issues related to conflicts, peacebuilding and democratization in Burma will be examined. The methodology is inspired by institutional ethnography, an approach which takes women?s everyday realities as point of departure and then attempts to connect these to the broader regimes of power and rule that shape the conditions of these everyday realities. Theoretically, the project will draw on previous literature and conceptual frameworks on how diaspora communities engage with and seek to affect processes of change in the homeland. In order to understand and theorize the gendered dynamics of such processes as well as the nature of and conditions for women?s activism in the diaspora, the project will make use of concepts and tools from the wealth of literature on gender, peace and conflict. Bringing these research fields together will enable this project to make important and novel contributions by examining how women in the diaspora organize and act politically, how their activism affects the peace process in the homeland, and how it contributes to reconstruct notions of gender, ethnicity and nation.
Publications (10 of 10) Show all publications
Olivius, E. & Hedström, J. (2023). 'On the border, i learned how to advocate': borderlands as political spaces for Burmese women’s activism. The Journal of Refugee Studies
Open this publication in new window or tab >>'On the border, i learned how to advocate': borderlands as political spaces for Burmese women’s activism
2023 (English)In: The Journal of Refugee Studies, ISSN 0951-6328, E-ISSN 1471-6925Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

This article explores the political space of the border through the experiences of Myanmar women activists, for whom the borderlands in Thailand have provided refuge as well as a conducive environment for political mobilization. At the same time, the border renders refugee activists insecure and precarious. Drawing on life history interviews, our analysis expands conceptualizations of the border as a dynamic political space by illustrating its dual capacity to both facilitate and constrain the political agency of refugee women from Myanmar. In particular, the spatial and temporal fluidity and in-betweenness of the border is shown to foster both repression and resistance. Exploring the character and salience of the border as a space for activism over time, we demonstrate how the political space of the border is relational, constituted in interaction with other political spaces, such as politics and governance in Myanmar, transnational activist networks, and the politics of international aid. 

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oxford University Press, 2023
Keywords
Refugee women, women’s activism, border politics, political space, life history interviews, Myanmar
National Category
International Migration and Ethnic Relations Political Science
Research subject
Peace and Conflict Research
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-213522 (URN)10.1093/jrs/fead030 (DOI)
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2015-01756Swedish Research Council, 2019-04227
Available from: 2023-08-24 Created: 2023-08-24 Last updated: 2023-08-24
Cardenas, M. L. & Olivius, E. (2021). Building Peace in the Shadow of War: Women-to-Women Diplomacy as Alternative Peacebuilding Practice in Myanmar. Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, 15(3), 347-366
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Building Peace in the Shadow of War: Women-to-Women Diplomacy as Alternative Peacebuilding Practice in Myanmar
2021 (English)In: Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, ISSN 1750-2977, E-ISSN 1750-2985, Vol. 15, no 3, p. 347-366Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Conventional assumptions locating peacebuilding temporally after violence have largely prevented exploration of how peacebuilding is practiced amidst conditions of ongoing violence. This article addresses this gap by analysing how Myanmar women's activists have devised strategies in pursuit of peace, amidst ongoing armed conflict, from the 1990s and onwards. The findings demonstrate that women's inter-ethnic cooperation contributed to transform conflict divides long before the initiation of formal national peace negotiations in 2011. Further, theorizing these peacebuilding practices, the article provides new insights into the dynamics of women's peace activism of relevance beyond the case of Myanmar.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2021
Keywords
Women's activism, gender equality, inter-ethnic dialogue, Women's League of Burma, Peacebuilding
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Peace and Conflict Research
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-183911 (URN)10.1080/17502977.2021.1917254 (DOI)000653555700001 ()2-s2.0-85104696714 (Scopus ID)
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2015-01756Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, M16-0297:1Swedish Research Council, 2013-06334
Available from: 2021-06-04 Created: 2021-06-04 Last updated: 2023-03-24Bibliographically approved
Blomqvist, L., Olivius, E. & Hedström, J. (2021). Care and Silence in Women's Everyday Peacebuilding in Myanmar. Conflict, Security and Development, 21(3), 223-244
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Care and Silence in Women's Everyday Peacebuilding in Myanmar
2021 (English)In: Conflict, Security and Development, ISSN 1467-8802, E-ISSN 1478-1174, Vol. 21, no 3, p. 223-244Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article draws on feminist perspectives on the everyday to explore women’s everyday experiences of peace in Kayah state in Myanmar. We locate the daily practices women engage in to maintain life and minimise violence, making visible women’s contributions to everyday peace. In addition, we examine the ways in which women are disproportionally affected by war and prevented from benefitting from post-war changes. Our findings demonstrate that practices of care and silence are key avenues for women’s everyday peacebuilding, through which women sustain peace, ensure survival, and minimise violence in their families and wider communities. At the same time, however, these practices are conditioned by and may contribute to gendered insecurity and marginalisation for women. Through this focus, our analysis shows how women’s positioning in gendered relations of power may both enable their agency in peacebuilding and reinforce their gendered inequality and marginalisation in the post-war period. We conclude that while everyday peace practices may hold the potential for positive change, these can also contribute to the reproduction of inequality, oppression and structural violence.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2021
Keywords
Everyday peace, women, gendered peace gaps, peacebuilding, care, silence, Myanmar
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalisation Studies)
Research subject
Peace and Conflict Research
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-183908 (URN)10.1080/14678802.2021.1933031 (DOI)000657198500001 ()2-s2.0-85107521523 (Scopus ID)
Funder
Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, M16-0297-1Swedish Research Council, 2015-01756
Available from: 2021-06-04 Created: 2021-06-04 Last updated: 2023-03-23Bibliographically approved
Olivius, E. & Hedström, J. (2021). Gender, development and legacies of war in Myanmar. Swedish Development Research Network
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Gender, development and legacies of war in Myanmar
2021 (English)Other (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
Place, publisher, year, pages
Swedish Development Research Network, 2021
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Peace and Conflict Research
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-187324 (URN)
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2015-01756
Note

Published 2021-05-24

Available from: 2021-09-08 Created: 2021-09-08 Last updated: 2021-09-08Bibliographically approved
Hedström, J. & Olivius, E. (2021). The politics of sexual violence in the Kachin conflict in Myanmar. International feminist journal of politics, 23(3), 374-395
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The politics of sexual violence in the Kachin conflict in Myanmar
2021 (English)In: International feminist journal of politics, ISSN 1461-6742, E-ISSN 1468-4470, Vol. 23, no 3, p. 374-395Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Conflict-related sexual violence has been the focus of significant international activism and policy attention. International legal norms and frameworks have evolved to recognize it as a war crime, and a representation of sexual violence as a “weapon of war” is now widely endorsed. This article examines how international norms about conflict-related sexual violence are adopted and utilized in multiple ways in the armed conflict in Kachin state in northern Myanmar. Throughout decades of civil war, international norms on sexual violence have constituted key resources for international advocacy and awareness raising by local women’s rights activists. Further, activists have drawn on international norms to effect changes in gendered relations of power within their own communities. However, international norms on sexual violence in conflict have also been effectively used as tools for ethno-nationalist identity politics, rallying support behind the armed insurgency and mobilizing women’s unpaid labor in the service of war. Thus, international norms on conflict-related sexual violence have simultaneously opened up space for women’s empowerment and political agency and reproduced gendered forms of insecurity and marginalization. Exploring these contradictions and complexities, this analysis generates novel insights into the politics of international norms in contexts of armed conflict.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2021
Keywords
Conflict-related sexual violence, international norms, norm translation, Myanmar, Kachin
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalisation Studies) Gender Studies
Research subject
Peace and Conflict Research
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-179596 (URN)10.1080/14616742.2020.1862690 (DOI)000613778300001 ()2-s2.0-85100239098 (Scopus ID)
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2015-01756
Available from: 2021-02-04 Created: 2021-02-04 Last updated: 2022-01-12Bibliographically approved
Olivius, E. (2021). Transnationell feministisk aktivism, migration och väpnade konflikter. In: Emil Edenborg; Sofie Tornhill; Cecilia Åse (Ed.), Feministiska perspektiv på global politik: (pp. 169-180). Lund: Studentlitteratur AB
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Transnationell feministisk aktivism, migration och väpnade konflikter
2021 (Swedish)In: Feministiska perspektiv på global politik / [ed] Emil Edenborg; Sofie Tornhill; Cecilia Åse, Lund: Studentlitteratur AB, 2021, p. 169-180Chapter in book (Refereed)
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Lund: Studentlitteratur AB, 2021
National Category
Political Science International Migration and Ethnic Relations Gender Studies
Research subject
Peace and Conflict Research
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-188748 (URN)9789144140209 (ISBN)
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2015-01756
Available from: 2021-10-21 Created: 2021-10-21 Last updated: 2021-12-08Bibliographically approved
Hedström, J., Olivius, E. & Kay Soe, V. (2021). Women's Rights: Change and Continuity. In: Simpson, Adam & Farelly, Nicholas (Ed.), Myanmar: Politics, Economy and Society (pp. 186-203). London & New York: Routledge
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Women's Rights: Change and Continuity
2021 (English)In: Myanmar: Politics, Economy and Society / [ed] Simpson, Adam & Farelly, Nicholas, London & New York: Routledge, 2021, p. 186-203Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This chapter examines how the status of women has evolved against a background of absolute exclusion during military rule to a semi-civilian government with a female de-facto head of state. Despite this shift, gender inequality persists across the country at all levels. Why is this, and how are women organising themselves to confront the inequalities that they face? This chapter provides an analysis of change and continuity in terms of both opportunities and challenges for realising gender equality in Myanmar. Taking the situation of women during military rule as a starting point the analysis moves on to explore women’s experiences of the transition and their attempts at leveraging political openings for gender equality under the current government, before concluding with a discussion of future challenges and opportunities for women’s equality in Myanmar. Honing in on women’s political activism, past and present, this chapter allows close examination of what has changed and what has remained the same for women in Myanmar.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London & New York: Routledge, 2021
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalisation Studies) Gender Studies
Research subject
Peace and Conflict Research; gender studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-174695 (URN)10.4324/9780429024443 (DOI)978-0-367-11044-4 (ISBN)978-0-367-11035-2 (ISBN)978-0-429-02444-3 (ISBN)
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2015-01756
Available from: 2020-09-02 Created: 2020-09-02 Last updated: 2020-09-16Bibliographically approved
Hedström, J. & Olivius, E. (2020). Insecurity, Dispossession, Depletion : Women’s Experiences of Post-War Development in Myanmar. European Journal of Development Research, 32(2), 379-403
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Insecurity, Dispossession, Depletion : Women’s Experiences of Post-War Development in Myanmar
2020 (English)In: European Journal of Development Research, ISSN 0957-8811, E-ISSN 1743-9728, Vol. 32, no 2, p. 379-403Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article explores the gendered dynamics of Myanmar’s post-war economic reforms through an analysis of women’s experiences of development in Kayah (Karenni) state. In Myanmar, ceasefires and a reduction of armed violence combined with state-driven economic liberalization reforms are conditioned by, but also contribute to remake, gendered relations of power, privilege and marginalization. While new land legislation and development projects have contributed to loss of land and livelihoods among rural populations in general, our study demonstrates that women living in conflict-affected border areas are disproportionally affected. Drawing on interviews and participant observation, we show how this is directly related to an overarching gendered political economy defined by legacies of conflict, discrimination and uneven processes of development, which positions women as particularly vulnerable to new forms of insecurity, dispossession and depletion generated by post-war economic transformations. We argue that the political and economic legacies of war in the state has produced a gendered division of labor that positions women as responsible for unpaid and underpaid informal and social reproductive labor, weakens women’s access to land, and results in physical, material, and emotional depletion. Through this focus, our study adds to research on development and economic restructuring in post-war contexts in general, and to emergent scholarship on Myanmar’s economic reforms in particular.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2020
Keywords
Post-war economic development, Gender, Feminist political economy. Informal labor, Land rights, Myanmar, Kayah/Karenni state
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalisation Studies)
Research subject
Peace and Conflict Research
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-170074 (URN)10.1057/s41287-020-00255-2 (DOI)000521910700001 ()2-s2.0-85082817217 (Scopus ID)
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2015-01756Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, M16-0297:1
Available from: 2020-04-24 Created: 2020-04-24 Last updated: 2023-03-24Bibliographically approved
Olivius, E. & Hedström, J. (2020). Young women's leadership in conflict: Crossing borders in Myanmar. In: Katrina Lee-Koo, Lesley Pruitt (Ed.), Young women and leadership: (pp. 45-63). Abingdon & New York: Routledge
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Young women's leadership in conflict: Crossing borders in Myanmar
2020 (English)In: Young women and leadership / [ed] Katrina Lee-Koo, Lesley Pruitt, Abingdon & New York: Routledge, 2020, p. 45-63Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Multiple armed conflicts in Myanmar have resulted in long-term, large-scale forced displacement, humanitarian crises, and immense human suffering. However, the borderlands of Myanmar’s neighboring countries have also provided political space for the mobilization of diverse forms of oppositional politics, ranging from armed resistance to human rights documentation, alternative news reporting on the situation in Myanmar, and international networking and lobbying. In particular, since the 1990s these borderlands, most notably the Thai-Myanmar border areas, have seen the emergence of a vibrant and outspoken multi-ethnic women’s movement.

In this chapter, we explore how young women activists from Myanmar have been able to carve out new spaces and forms of leadership while in exile in Thailand. From its inception, the border-based women’s movement made leadership training - specifically targeting young women - a key feature. We examine the impact of these training programs in the lives of women activists, and trace how graduates of these programs have moved on to lead in ways that have created social and political change within exiled oppositional politics and diaspora communities in Thailand. We analyze how the recent return of exiled activists and oppositional groups to Myanmar reshapes the conditions for young women’s leadership, presenting formerly exiled activists with new challenges as well as new avenues for leadership.

Our analysis illustrates the political potential of border-crossing in several senses. In a spatial sense, we demonstrate how the diasporic, transnational political space in Thailand enabled young women to challenge age and gender norms and hierarchies to a degree previously unimagined, making young women leaders a significant force in Burmese diasporic politics. We note the importance of international advocacy and transnational networking to the growing recognition of young women as effective leaders, understanding this as another form of border-crossing. However, with return to Myanmar the political space for young women’s leadership is (again) reconfigured; accordingly, the effectiveness of leadership strategies and styles established in exile are reconsidered. In a conceptual sense, our analysis illuminates how young women activists have moved across boundaries between public and private leadership and formal and informal leadership. We highlight how the strategic deployment of women’s reproductive duties in the private sphere have created opportunities for women’s participation in the public sphere, for example in refugee camps and ethnic minority armed organizations.  In the nationwide ceasefire process, women have combined informal advocacy through “tea break advocacy” (Pepper, 2018) with formal positions as leaders of women’s groups. We argue that in skillfully moving across these conceptual boundaries, young women activists’ affect social and political change. Situating border-crossing as a key feature of young women’s leadership in this context, we thus contribute to theorizing the character and impact of young women’s leadership.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Abingdon & New York: Routledge, 2020
Series
Routledge Studiesin Gender and Global Politics
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalisation Studies) International Migration and Ethnic Relations Gender Studies
Research subject
Peace and Conflict Research
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-170075 (URN)10.4324/9780429261480 (DOI)9780429261480 (ISBN)
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2015-01756
Available from: 2020-04-24 Created: 2020-04-24 Last updated: 2020-04-27Bibliographically approved
Olivius, E. & Hedström, J. (2019). Militarized Nationalism as a Platform for Feminist Mobilization?: The Case of the Exiled Burmese Women’s Movement. Women's Studies: International Forum, 76, Article ID 102263.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Militarized Nationalism as a Platform for Feminist Mobilization?: The Case of the Exiled Burmese Women’s Movement
2019 (English)In: Women's Studies: International Forum, ISSN 0277-5395, E-ISSN 1879-243X, Vol. 76, article id 102263Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Feminist scholars have convincingly demonstrated how militarism and nationalism rely on the (re)production of gendered hierarchies. As a result, feminism is often assumed to be at odds with these political projects. In this article, we demonstrate that this is not always and not necessarily the case: in contrast, militarized nationalism may even constitute fertile ground for the mobilization of feminist organization and activism. We make this argument drawing on an in-depth case study of the emergence and evolution of an exiled Burmese women's movement from within armed ethno-nationalist struggles in the borderlands of Myanmar. Drawing on interviews with women activists, we examine when and how militarized nationalism can provide a space from which feminist agendas can be articulated and successfully pursued. This case demonstrates that militarized nationalism does not only have the potential to mobilize women's participation, but can provide a platform for feminist organization and activism that transcends, challenges, and eventually reshapes militarized nationalist projects in ways that advance women's rights and equality. These findings call into question generalized assumptions about the conflictual relationship between feminism, militarism and nationalism, and contributes to advance feminist debates about women's mobilization in contexts of armed conflicts and nationalist struggles.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2019
Keywords
Feminism, Militarism, Nationalism, Women's activism, Myanmar, Armed conflict
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalisation Studies) Gender Studies
Research subject
Peace and Conflict Research
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-162639 (URN)10.1016/j.wsif.2019.102263 (DOI)000488141700003 ()2-s2.0-85070524108 (Scopus ID)
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2015-01756
Available from: 2019-08-26 Created: 2019-08-26 Last updated: 2023-03-24Bibliographically approved
Principal InvestigatorOlivius, Elisabeth
Coordinating organisation
Umeå University
Funder
Period
2016-01-01 - 2019-12-31
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)International Migration and Ethnic Relations
Identifiers
DiVA, id: project:1509Project, id: 2015-01756_VR