Militarizing Her: Context and Cause for Tamil Women in Sri Lanka

2014-02-11

What explains female participation in violent armed groups? Social scientists have productively focused on recruitment into violent groups yet none has gone beyond the initial moment of joining to examine the trajectory of women once ensconced within a rebel group.

 
Uppsala Forum and Forum for South Asia Studies Lecture with Dr Nimmi Gowrinatha
Time: December 11, 15.15-17.00Venue: Brusewitz-salen, Gamla Torget 6

 

What explains female participation in violent armed groups? Social scientists have productively focused on recruitment into violent groups yet none has gone beyond the initial moment of joining to examine the trajectory of women once ensconced within a rebel group. Does the method of recruitment determine the nature of participation? Dr Nimmi Gowrinathan argues that recruitment has little impact on the nature of women’s participation within a violent group. Drawing on the case of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka she argues that the political identity of the woman, shaped by her prior experience of state repression (in particular militarization), has a greater impact on individual female participation than the specific manner of her recruitment. This complicates the dominant assumption that the way in which someone is recruited into a rebel group will determine the nature of their participation. Instead, Dr Gowrinathan demonstrates that even in cases of coercive recruitment, female participation cannot be predicted and may even evidence high levels of commitment to the insurgent cause.

The presenter, Dr Nimmi Gowrinathan, holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her study, “How Women Rebel: Gender and Agency in Sri Lanka” looks at the impact of displacement, militarization, and gender-based violence on women’s political identities, and it received the Jean and Irving Stone Dissertation Award for Innovation in Gender Studies. Nimmi was formerly the Director of South Asia Programs and UN Representative for Operation USA (2004-2011), an international disaster relief and development organization. In this capacity she raised over 2 million dollars and managed these funds in the form of small grants to community-based organizations in India, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. She has also worked as a lead researcher and analyst for the International Crisis Group (ICG), researching and writing policy reports around women’s insecurities in conflict zones, and briefing high-level policy makers such as the Hon Louise Arbour and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. 

Nimmi has published both academic articles and opinion editorials on humanitarian intervention and the intersection of gender and violence for the Huffington Post, Humanitarian Practice Network, World Policy Institute, and Gawker.com among others. Her most recent article "Inside Camps, Outside Battlefields: Security and Survival for Tamil Women" was the lead article in Oxford's St. Anthony's International Review.


For more information please contact Per-Olov.hammargren@jur.uu.se

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