Structural Violence, Intersectionality, and Justpeace: Evaluating Women’s Peacebuilding Agency in Manipur, India

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  • Author(s):
    • Karie Riddle
  • Included in: Hypati
  • Published: June 17, 2017
  • Publisher: Hypatia

The general scholarship on armed conflict in Manipur, India, ignores the experiences of women as agents. Feminist scholarship counters this tendency, revealing women's everyday responses to the violence that constrains them. However, this scholarship often fails to be intersectional, and it lauds every instance of women's agency without evaluating it in terms of its ability to build peace. Employing Kimberlé Crenshaw's underused distinction between structural and political intersectionality and Saba Mahmood's concept of agency, I analyze my field research conducted with women's peacebuilding groups in Manipur in 2014 and 2015. Using structural intersectionality, I first describe the qualitatively different experiences of women peacebuilders living at different social locations. Using political intersectionality as a normative tool, I then show that ethnic and religious hierarchies often disrupt women's attempts to build peace. Interethnic peacebuilding groups that rely on gender‐based solidarity tend to privilege the experiences of the women coming from the majority ethnic group. Other peacebuilding groups, bound by ethnicity, often distrust and resent women who come from different ethnic enclaves. I argue that women's peacebuilding agency must aim at an inclusive justpeace if it is to succeed. We should evaluate agency, rather than glorifying all instances of women's responses to violence.



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