|May 15, 2014
1190 Franklin Blvd
Waging war has historically been an almost exclusively male endeavor. Yet over the past several decades, women have joined insurgent armies in significant and surprising numbers. Why do women become guerrilla insurgents? What experiences do they have in guerrilla armies? What are the consequences of this participation for the women themselves and the societies in which they live?
Jocelyn Viterna, an associate professor of sociology at Harvard University, answers these questions while providing a rare look at guerrilla life from the viewpoint of rank-and-file participants. Using data from 230 in-depth interviews with men and women guerrillas, guerrilla supporters, and non-participants in rural El Salvador, she investigates why some women were able to channel their wartime actions into post-war gains, and how those patterns differ from the benefits that accrued to men.
Viterna’s work helps resolve current debates about the effects of war on women, and develops our nascent understanding of the effects of women combatants on war, warfare, and gender systems more broadly. It also provides a timely contribution to a central preoccupation of contemporary social movement theory: the question of whether and how movements “matter.”
Sponsored by the Américas Research Interest Group, Center for the Study of Women in Society. The Américas RIG seeks to strengthen the work of, and foster connections among, scholars across a wide variety of disciplines that are interested in issues of gender, sexuality, and feminism in the Americas.
About the speaker
Jocelyn Viterna is an associate professor of Sociology at Harvard University. Her research explores the evolving relationship between gender, the state, and civil society in transition and post-transition contexts. Her book, Women in War: The Case of El Salvador is now available from Oxford University Press.