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Gender Troubled? Three Simple Steps to Avoid Silencing Gender in IR

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In many respects, the development of feminist and gender scholarship in the discipline of IR is nothing short of a success story. Since the 1990s, when feminist work had a major break-through in the field, much has happened to IR. There are now multiple robust research agendas on gender in international politics, and these have been institutionalized in the discipline. The International Feminist Journal of Politics will turn 20 years this year, serving as a hub for much of the large body of gender scholarship that has emerged in IR and beyond. A range of IR journals, including high impact journals such as the European Journal of International Relations, International Political Sociology and Security Dialogue regularly publish articles on gender in international politics. The number of sections, panels and papers on gender at the major IR conventions is impressive. In addition to attending to gender as a crucial and often central dimension in international politics, IR is more diverse and more inclusive as a result. This is something to celebrate, a reason to feel optimism about disciplinary developments.

That said, I can’t help but also worry about certain developments with respects to gender in the discipline. I struggle to represent this worry properly, as I am well aware that one’s view on disciplinary developments is a function of where one sits within the field. Also, much has already been said over the years about the (lack of) integration of feminist work in the broader discipline. What this short text offers are some brief reflections on what I see as worrying contemporary trends with respect to how gender is integrated into IR, followed by three simple suggestions for how to avoid masking or writing gender out of scholarly analyses.

In simple gloss, my concern is this: although feminist/gender scholarship has made it into most disciplinary conventions and publication venues, too much IR scholarship proceeds without paying any attention to feminist work whatsoever, going on as if gender were not a fundamental dimension of international politics. The problem is not that individual monographs or specific authors ignore........

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