Monday, November 14, 2016

Flick of the Skirt: A Feminist Challenge to IR’s Coherent Narrative

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JB: Another find in my research efforts to identify the use (misuse?) of the word "narrative" in inside-the-beltway (add "academic") parlance (btw, the below suggests that the sociological professorial class is unable to use the English language in a plain, comprehensible way) ...

Marriage is rarely accorded analytical attention by International Relations (IR) scholars. By contrast, feminist interrogators of marriage—as an institution and the site of lived experience—have exposed the reliance of militarists and militaries, and thus the conduct of international politics, on sustaining patriarchal marriage. By international political sociology taking those feminist interrogations seriously, we will be able to comprehend the significance of typically trivialized signals and gestures that otherwise fall through the nets of conventional international political analysis. “Military wives” (in all their national, racialized, and status diversity) prove worthy of serious international sociological attention. No military base, local or overseas, can be adequately understood without such attention. Attentiveness to gendered quotidian militarizing dynamics, in turn, will transform the IR narrative. [JB emphasis]

“China’s current building of atoll bases in the South China Sea is escalating the militarization of the entire region.” The analytical assertion rolls easily off the conventional international politics expert’s tongue and is absorbed just as easily in the ears of most conventional listeners.

Similarly: “Unheeded by most outside observers, US aid has helped militarize Mexico’s current politics.” While the content of this analytical assessment may be contested, its discursive form will also come easily to most conventional experts and appear unexceptional to most listeners.

That is, these two analytical assertions will seem unexceptional to most of those speakers, and to their listeners, who have managed to remain unaffected by the past twenty years of feminist theorists’ intellectual interventions into the study of international politics.

What is notable about both of these assertions is their narrative coherence. [JB emphasis] There is a sort of straightforward subject-object/cause-effect structure that gives force to such a narrative . It confers an aura of authority. The workings of international politics may be complex (were they not, there would not be a call for commentaries by “experts”[JB note -- is the author "modestly" (or, perhaps, immodestly -- "let's talk about something interesting -- let's talk about me) referring to him/herself?], but

View Full Text [JB note -- which, frankly, I did not read, having endured the above prose for more time than I should spare, given our short life on Mother Earth, feminist interrogators and male chauvinists included, if God allows, among us imperfect/sinful human beings.]

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