Panel 20

The other side of masculinity and mass violence. Examining non-combatant, conflict-affected men in Africa

Panel organizer: Rose Løvgren, Danish Institute for International Studies, Denmark

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In studies of gender, security and conflict in Africa, the masculinities of violent men have been relatively prominent, with important work being done by scholars examining the constructions of military-, gang-, rebel-, peacekeeper- and other potentially violence perpetrating masculinities. Important and insightful as this work is, there is however an immense gap in the research of the majority of men in conflict-affected societies, namely those whose lives are defined by the conflict but who are not active combatants. This panel engages masculinity and violence with a focus on the precariousness of these men’s lives in societies of ongoing violence as well as post-conflict societies.

Collecting scholars from a variety of disciplines, the panel examines sexual violence against men, drawing in cases from ongoing conflicts and the challenges of transitional justice in their aftermath. Sexual violence takes many forms and affects both men, their families and their partners, yet both the language of gender interventions and the information about the issue is thoroughly limited. Moreover, the panel examines gendered security politics directed at young men and the effects of NGOs focusing on constructing ‘positive masculinities’ in post-conflict societies. Although engaging potentially violent masculinities may be considered an important political priority, these efforts often employ gendered biases that affect both women and men negatively, and are at times used to justify excessive violence against non-combatant men.

By collecting these many different perspectives on conflict-affected masculinities, the panel seeks to open up for more nuances to academic and political discussions and initiatives concerning gender, security and violence in and outside of African countries.

Approved abstracts Panel 20

1. Farmers in conflict-prone societies: A cycle of dependency, opportunism and identity concerns

Author: Wendy Isaacs-Martin (University of South Africa, SA)

In the popular imaginaire African peasant farmers are portrayed as an impoverished, peripheral, marginalised and tied to the land, diametrically opposed to the notion of the African fighter who is overwhelmingly portrayed as a hodgepodge of unemployed youth, former armed combatants, disgruntled soldiers and mercenaries. Therefore a perception exists that fighting is confined to the unemployed, marginalised or those paid to perpetrate violence. Due to their intermittent participation farmers seldom are perceived as contributors to conflict. Yet they exist within an insecure environment and thus, form part of the conflict machinary. The question posed is whether African peasant farmers are pawns in conflict-prone and insecure countries?

Firstly the precariousness of farming in conflict-prone, and thus insecure, countries results in farmers forming self-defence units, to thwart attacks from rival cattle farmers, soldiers, bandits and other armed groups. A lack of resources, weapons, and protection are amongst the reasons that farmers join or align with militias and insurgents where identities are salient. Secondly militias offer an alternative source of income to crop harvesting. For the farmer a militia stipend can surpass the financial value of farming. Reduced farming benefits warlords strategically by creating false famines. A third reason is to sell crops, by avoiding heavy concessions to governments, across borders to commercial entities, who share ethnic identities, who may themselves be part of, and benefitting from, conflict The conclusion drawn is that peasant farmers while of strategic use for armed groups are the least valued fighters in militias and insurgent groups. However they are the most likely to return to using the land once the conflict subsides and retain relationships to identity-linked commercial interests.

2. “Gendered men”: Exploring strategies engaging men in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Author: Chloé Lewis (University of Oxford, UK)

Efforts to address sexual and gender-based violence in conflict and post-conflict settings have largely been focused on and targeted towards responding to the needs of women and girls. More recently, however, increasing attention has been paid to the potential role of men, and to a lesser extent boys, in strategies to promote gender equality and reduce levels of gender-based violence. Demonstrating the high-level institutional support of this incremental trend, Security Council resolution 2106 on Women, Peace and Security, adopted in June 2013 and the first resolution to make explicit reference to men and boys, affirms that: “the enlistment of men and boys in the effort to combat all forms of violence against women are central to long-term efforts to prevent sexual violence in armed conflict and post-conflict situations”. Resolution 2106 is also credited as being the first Security Council resolution to make reference to men and boys as potential victims of sexual and gender-based violence in conflict-affected settings.

Against this backdrop, this paper explores the (still limited) spaces available to non-combatant men in the North and South Kivu provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo amid the widespread and long-standing policies and programmes aimed at sexual and gender-based violence. More specifically, and drawing on interviews with a diversity of actors working across the sector, it considers the ways in which Congolese men are seen and see themselves as gendered beings. Overall, it seeks to demonstrate that despite an increasingly institutionalised, and to some degree nuanced, shift towards engaging men in “gender programming”, men are still rarely, if ever, engaged as potential victims of (sexual) violence in this context.

3. Governing intoxicated masculinities – drug policing and the gendered order of security in Rwanda

Author: Rose Løvgren (Danish Institute for International Studies, Denmark)

Images of intoxicated masculinities play a major role in interpretations of mass violence on the African continent. Perpetrators of violence are often portrayed as marginalized young men under the influence of alcohol and/ or drugs, making them emotionally callous and capable of horrific forms of violence. This tendency has been no less prevalent in interpretations of the Rwandan genocide in 1994. Its low-level perpetrators have repeatedly been characterized as young men in the margins of society, who were easily lured into committing genocide by festive rallies “where alcohol usually flowed freely” (Gourevitch 2004, 93), in spite of much evidence indicating that young men were not over-represented among genocidaires. While drug and alcohol consumption among combatants is a significant factor in war and conflict all over the world, this paper seeks to disturb how the relation between masculinity, intoxication and violence is commonly understood. It does so by analyzing governance of intoxicated masculinities in Rwanda. I argue that an understanding of drug and alcohol addicted young men as a lurking threat to societal security is part of the motivation for excessive violence against them. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Rwanda, I argue that Rwandan governance of the consumptions of men is closely linked with the production of local and national security. This link in turn makes economically marginalized drug and alcohol addicted young men especially vulnerable to large scale arrests and long term detention. By analyzing the gendered order of security produced in the policing of drugs, I aim to question more broadly the role played by intoxicated masculinities in interpretations of violence and the security politics derived from them.

4. New respect, new clothes, new men – Examining the construction of ‘positive masculinities’ in Central Africa

Author: Henri Myrttinen (International Alert, United Kingdom)

Over the past five to ten years, local and international NGOs concerned about issues such as domestic violence and unequal gender relations, have increasingly started working on engaging with men and boys, as well as the masculine norms they are societally expected to live up to, in order to change their behaviours and attitudes. The post-conflict and conflict-affected states of the Great Lakes region have been a focal area for this work. While these efforts seem, by most accounts, to have been successful at reducing violent male behaviour and instilled participating men with regained self-respect, the paper will examine some of the potential unintended consequences that these interventions may have on gendered power dynamics.

5. Gendered post-conflict justice: Male sexual violence victims in Northern Uganda

Author: Philipp Schulz (Ulster University, United Kingdom)

Male survivors of sexual violence in Acholiland have been continuously silenced by society and processes of dealing with the past for the last twenty-five years. In Northern Uganda, such processes are primarily administered in a top-down approach, characterized by a lack of community or victim participation, and emphasize institutionalized initiatives, resulting in a neglect of informal, uninstitutional and everyday practices of social repair. At the same time, crimes of sexual violence against men are excluded from official discourses of the conflict and from exercises of negotiating Northern Uganda's violent past, therefore slipping under the radar of post-conflict justice processes.

This paper examines the lived realities of male sexual violence survivors in Northern Uganda while focusing on survivors' processes of negotiating a harmful past and their on-going quests for gendered post-conflict justice. Deriving from six months of ethnographic field research between January and August 2016, the paper focuses on 'everyday' and bottom-up processes of justice that male survivors are engaging with. Situated within legal anthropology, the paper contributes to a broadened and contextual understanding of justice, emphasizing that in the Northern Ugandan post-war context, justice for male survivors is a social project, rather than a set of institutionalized mechanisms. The paper demonstrates that one avenue of social repair for male sexual violence victims are survivors' groups, which provide peer-support and initiate a process of public recognition of their gendered harms, in which acknowledgement and recognition constitute integral aspects to justice. Recognition as a notion of justice, however, needs to be nuanced, and includes acknowledgement by wider Acholi society and the government, but not necessarily awareness of the crimes committed against survivors by immediate community and family members, due to fear of stigmatization. Justice processes further need to be responsive to male survivors' gendered harms, characterized by thwarted gender identities and emasculation.

Key words: Masculinity; Uganda; Conflict; Rape; Sexual Violence; Men

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