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There Is a Crack in Everything: Problematising Masculinities, Peacebuilding and Transitional Justice

Abstract

The study of masculinity, particularly in peacebuilding and transitional justice contexts, is gradually emerging. The article outlines three fissures evident in the embryonic scholarship, that is the privileging of direct violence and its limited focus, the continuities and discontinuities in militarised violence into peace time, and the tensions between new (less violent) masculinities and wider inclusive social change. The article argues for the importance of making visible the tensions between different masculinities and how masculinities are deeply entangled with systems of power and post-conflict social, political and economic outcomes. An analysis of masculine power within and between the structures aimed at building the peace in societies moving out of violence is considered essential. The article argues for an analysis that moves beyond a preoccupation with preventing violent masculinities from manifesting through the actions of individuals to considering how hidden masculine cultures operate within a variety of hierarchies and social spaces.

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Notes

  1. A contribution includes all editorials, articles, case studies, notes from the field and book reviews or review essays. The analysis included articles from 2007 when the journal was launched up to and including the first edition of 2015. The terms “masculinity”, “feminism” or “gender” could have been used more than once in an article, but the figures above simply reflect the overall count of the contributions containing the word.

  2. Alternative spellings of “peace-building” and “peace building” were included in this analysis. Concepts such as peace are more prevalent but used in multiple ways so for the illustrative argument made here has been omitted, although feature in some 70 contributions since 1998.

  3. In a recent survey in South Africa, it was found that three in four young South Africans think that the death penalty should be reinstated (see SAPA 2013). Bring back death penalty: survey, 22 February, 2013 available at http://www.timeslive.co.za/local/2013/02/22/bring-back-death-penalty-survey. Accessed 12 February 2015.

  4. Anderson draws on the work of Edwards (2006) to note that concepts of the “new” man, like metro-sexuality, are invented by the media and risk being associated with a pattern of consumption rather than necessarily a gendered change (Anderson 2009).

  5. The International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES) is a comprehensive household questionnaire on men’s attitudes and practices—along with women’s opinions and reports of men’s practices—on a wide variety of topics related to gender equality. From 2009 to 2010, household surveys were administered to more than 8000 men and 3500 women ages 18–59 in Brazil, Chile, Croatia, India, Mexico and Rwanda.

  6. The article quoted below presents findings from the International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES), one of the most comprehensive efforts of its kind to gather data on men’s attitudes and practices related to gender equality in eight low- and middle-income countries: Brazil, Chile, Mexico, India, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. IMAGES gathered data from 10,490 males (Levtov et al. 2014).

  7. I am drawing here, but changing and applying to a war context, on the notion of Beasley that “Working-class blokes may not actually wield power, but they can provide the means to legitimate it” (Beasley 2008, p.91).

  8. In fairness to the work of Eric Anderson, as noted earlier in this article, he never claims that his concept of inclusive masculinity is universal and applicable to all contexts. And, I am trying to rise to the challenge of Anderson (Anderson 2009, p.98) to utilise his theory in other contexts to test its utility.

  9. Although I am using caricatures of certain men in this example, I do this to demonstrate the relationship of masculinity to different forms of social power. The aim is to highlight the context in which hegemony operates, breeds and replicates. The highlighting of specific behaviours does not mean that hegemony is defined by such characteristics as it is a more insidious invisible process.

  10. There are many reasons for this that are beyond the scope of this article, but, in short, are linked to “an odd intersectionality as women themselves take on board a role in reproducing dominant social and cultural norms” (Ní Aoláin and McWilliams 2014, p.21).

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Acknowledgments

My thanks to Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Eilish Rooney and Brinton Lykes for their comments, feedback and ideas on earlier drafts of this article.

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Hamber, B. There Is a Crack in Everything: Problematising Masculinities, Peacebuilding and Transitional Justice. Hum Rights Rev 17, 9–34 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12142-015-0377-z

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Keywords

  • Masculinity
  • Peacebuilding
  • Transitional justice
  • Gender
  • Political violence
  • Hegemony
  • Intersectionality