Call for Papers: Gender and the Political Academy

Convenors: Maha Rafi Atal and Kaitlin Ball

The University of Cambridge’s Department of Politics and International Studies is pleased to invite submissions to its 2017 conference on Gender and the Political Academy. This conference will engage in and help to advance the dialogue surrounding gender issues in politics.  From the appointment of Theresa May as Prime Minister to the presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton, the past year has witnessed renewed debate about opportunities for and remaining barriers to women’s advancement in political careers in and outside of higher education. New research has highlighted how gender affects the different ways individuals may experience a range of political issues from welfare provision to health care. Ventures such as  IntLawGrrls, Women Also Know Stuff and Foreign Policy Interrupted have drawn attention to the need for better mentorship and support for women in academic political science.

We particularly welcome papers that address the following topics:

  • Making and Surviving an Academic Career: Women pursuing an academic career face a diverse range of challenges, from implicit bias in grading at the undergraduate level, to the challenges of mentorship during postgraduate degrees and postdoctoral fellowships, to parental leave and the burdens of academic care labour.
  • Gender and Political Epistemology: What role does gender play in our understanding of what the discipline of Politics is, both from a theoretical and a practical standpoint? Papers might consider the design of curricular, including the way core undergraduate and masters readings are selected, and the ways in which gender may colour a doctoral or postdoctoral researcher’s fieldwork experience.
  • Will Women Save the World? Assessing the Role of Female Politicians in a Time of Political Upheaval: 2016 saw unprecedented populist upheaval, which has rightly earned the focus on many political commentators. Unfortunately, this focus has overshadowed another important development: the growing numbers of women in leadership positions globally. Nevertheless, the United Nations failed to elect its first female leader, as did the United States. At a moment of global crisis with unprecedented mistrust in politics, we welcome papers that explore opportunities and obstacles for female politicians.

Please submit a title and abstract of 300 words, as well as a CV, to kb558@cam.ac.uk by 1 March 2017. The Department is particularly eager to receive submissions from doctoral candidates and early career researchers.

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Women’s March London

In a show of solidarity with the D.C. Women’s March, between 80,000 and 100,000 women, men, and very nasty children and babies marched on London. The March started in front of the U.S. Embassy on Grosvenor Square and ended with a rally at Trafalgar Square.

For us, the day started with a train ride from Cambridge packed with people preparing for the March, including a purple pram decorated with a sign that read: “Such a Nasty Baby.”

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The beginning of our March, on the train from Cambridge to London. Photo courtesy of @queencharlot.

The short tube ride from King’s Cross to Oxford Circus, a few blocks away from the March’s starting point, was so full that exiting the station happened at a snail’s pace.

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Our de facto March commencement, at the Oxford Circus underground station.

 

A pair of older women led everyone waiting to get out of the underground in a rendition Solidarity Forever, the union anthem set to the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

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The crowd waiting for the start of the March.

Crowds backed up more than two blocks away from the March’s designated start.

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Some very British signs.

The atmosphere of the London march was jovial and inclusive, with speeches by comedian and co-founder of the Women’s Equality Party Sandi Toksvig as well as Labour MP Yvette Cooper. Notable attendees included London mayor Sadiq Khan, writer and comedian Caitlin Moran, Hamilton creator Lin Manuel Miranda, and Sir Ian McKellen.

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The March was so successful that nearly two hours after the rally’s scheduled start time demonstrators were still pouring into Trafalgar Square.

As readers of this site already well know, it is important to keep up the momentum of this global movement, and ensure it materialises into action. Women, however, have never had the privilege of being off the clock, and I am confident now is no exception.

We are grateful to the women of yesterday. We are proud of the women of today. We want more for the women of tomorrow.

Shoutout to a less covered Women’s March: that of Lexington, KY, which included the mother of this very proud author, and 5,000 others

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The crowd at the close of the Lexington, KY Women’s March.

Trouble? Remembering the Belfast Agreement in the Brexit Aftermath

Although Brexit resurfaced in the weekend’s newspapers with the revelation that Britain’s exit from the EU could be delayed until 2019, the referendum has largely taken a backseat to other news. Even at the height of the Brexit fervour there was little to no substantive debate on the effect a potential EU exit would have on Northern Ireland (which voted remain by a majority of 56%).

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The passport for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

This oversight notwithstanding, Northern Ireland’s ties to the European Union are significant and merit consideration, especially in the context of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. Europe has paid £1.3 billion to the Northern Irish PEACE programmes alone since 1995. This figure does not include farm subsidies or the economic gain from Northern Ireland’s food and agricultural exports to the EU. Monetary ties aside, I will focus on the proliferation of the European Convention on Human Rights in the Belfast Agreement, the important role it plays in the peace process, and the right to citizenship and self-determination in the context of a post-Brexit border poll. Continue reading

The Troubling Silence Surrounding Human Trafficking and the Conflict in Ukraine

The Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings was opened for signature in 2005, following public accusations in the early 2000’s of international complicity with sex trafficking in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Given the background to the European Convention on Action against Trafficking, as well as the links between trafficking and illegal movement of persons and contraband more generally, it would seem that human trafficking and the conflict in Ukraine should be at the forefront of European security discussions.

Despite the recent post-conflict trafficking scandals in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, surprisingly little attention has been paid to trafficking in Ukraine following Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the most recent round of doomed cease-fire agreements. While empirical data on the conflict in Ukraine is piecemeal at best, UNICEF pegs persons displaced by the conflict in Ukraine at over a million.

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OSCE Mission to Bosnia Launches Resources for War Crimes Reporting

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An image the OSCE Mission to Bosnia’s website.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which has recently been thrust in the news in light of recent events in Ukraine, has had a productive spring.  The Organization, founded in 1975 out of a conference in Helsinki, is the world’s largest security-oriented intergovernmental organization, with approximately fifteen mission offices.  Almost twenty years after the close of the conflict in the Former Yugoslavia, the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Rule of Law Unit has recently released a report detailing progress the country has made in prosecuting war crimes cases involving sexual violence. In addition, the Mission recently released a groundbreaking interactive war crimes map.

The report, titled “Combating Impunity for Conflict-Related Sexual Violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Progress and Challenges,” is  available in both Bosnian and English. It focuses on the prosecution of wartime crimes of sexual violence committed against an estimated 20,000 women, and countless men and boys during the 1992-1995 conflict in the former Yugoslav state.  The report examines the prosecution of wartime sexual violence during the period from 2005 to 2013 and provides a background on international jurisprudence on rape and sexual violence more generally.  It also describes the establishment of certain forms of sexual violence as war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide within the Bosnian national legal framework. Moreover, the report details the Bosnian special evidentiary rules governing sexual violence cases and examines the practice in both Bosnia’s high State Court, as well as the regional cantonal courts.  The report also includes several annexes that set forth the number of sexual violence cases charged, as well as a list of completed and ongoing cases involving wartime sexual violence before the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In addition to serving as a useful research tool, the report will help ensure that the lessons learned by Bosnia in prosecuting crimes of wartime sexual violence will be available to the world in our efforts to stamp out wartime sexual violence everywhere.

Spring also saw the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina releasing an innovative war crimes map, available here.  Also available in both Bosnian and English, the map is an interactive tool containing information on all war crimes cases adjudicated by Bosnian courts since 2003.  The map allows users to search by location of the court, or crime.  The OSCE explains that the tool is targeted at a “wide audience,” including the media, civil society, academia, and the general public.  Christopher Engels, Head of the Rule of Law Unit for the OSCE Mission to Bosnia, recently introduced the mapping project in an interview available here.

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A screenshot of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia’s interactive warcrimes mapping tool.

As tensions continue to rise in Eastern Europe, it is as important to look back as it is to look forward.  National prosecution of war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina will continue, but it is important to take a moment to both appreciate and understand the progress made in the prosecution of some of the worst wartimes crimes.

Visiting Srebrenica Almost Twenty Years Later

Srebrenica_massacre_memorial_gravestones_2009_1“As they grieve, so we grieve.”  -Remarks by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on the Srebrenica genocide in a 2010 press release. 

After four months interning here, I had resolved to stay silent on many of the issues I encountered in Bosnia.  The internet is already flooded with opinions surrounding issues facing contemporary Bosnia, and I did not feel my thoughts would add anything productive to the discussion.

But then I visited Srebrenica.  I had been to the Hague, sat in on a hearing of Ratko Mladić, the so-called “Butcher of Bosnia,” and read thousands of pages of war crimes cases from the Bosnian State Court.  Further, I used my free time to imbibe in film and books that would help educate me about the war (you will note I say war and not conflict) in Bosnia.  Needless to say, I felt it was very important to understand the context surrounding Srebrenica before visiting the memorial site.

On July 6, 1995, the U.N. protected enclave of Srebrenica fell.  While the U.N. had declared the enclave of Srebrenica, in the Drina Valley of north-eastern Bosnia, a “safe area” in 1993, the Dutch soldiers station at Srebrenica, for a variety of reasons, were unable to enforce this “safe area.”  So, when a Serbian paramilitary unit called the “Scorpions,” and members of the Army of the Bosnian-Serb Republika Srpska, led by General Ratko Mladić, swept in to the valley of Srebrenica, the Blue Helmets had little choice but to surrender the Bosnian Muslim population that had sought refuge from the fighting, especially considering Mladić was holding some forty Dutch soldiers hostage.

Quickly, the Bosnian Serb troops put women and children on buses headed west to territory controlled by Bosnian Muslim forces.  In the following three days, over 8,000 Bosnian Muslims, mostly men and boys, were murdered.  After the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia declared the massacre at Srebrenica a genocide in the 2004 Prosecutor v. Krstić case, many often overlook that the forcible transfer of over 25,000 Bosnian Muslims also took place at the time of the massacre.

In 2005, on the ten-year anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide, then-UN Secretary General Kofi Annan issued a press release on the Srebrenica genocide.  In this press release, Annan affirmed that, while primary responsibility for the terrible events that transpired at Srebrenica lies with the perpetrators themselves, that Srebrenica would forever remain a dark mark on the history of the UN.

Almost twenty years later, more than 6,000 of the Srebrenica victims have been identified and laid to rest.  The town of Srebrenica, once part of a thriving industrial valley, now boasts an almost 80% unemployment rate.  Understandably, Bosnian Muslims have, by in large, chosen not to return to the area.  While the municipality of Srebrenica is vast, town of Srebrenica itself is actually quite small (there are, literally, two streets), but at the top of hill at the end of a long road you can find some amazing natural springs of both iron and sulfur.

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