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Of Exceptions and Continuities: Theory and Methodology in Research on Conflict-Related Sexual Violence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)506-519
JournalInternational Feminist Journal of Politics
Volume19
Issue number4
Early online date3 Oct 2017
DOIs
Accepted/In press17 Feb 2017
E-pub ahead of print3 Oct 2017
Published2017

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Abstract

In response to an emerging debate around qualitative and quantitative methods in sexual violence research, in this paper I explore the apparent unease between the two methodological approaches, and ask how empirical data with regard to sexual violence in conflict informs policy and calls for justice. I argue that the quantitative turn in conflict-related sexual violence research feeds into its exceptionalization and tends to divorce such violence from more contextualized gender analyses, or perspectives that emphasize continuums of gender-based violence. While in some cases exceptionalization is essential, such as for the purpose of criminal accountability, for the purposes of understanding prevalence we need quantitative and qualitative analysis, and comparative as well as contextual data that will allow us to see the continuities as well. The analysis of gender, understood as a “constitutive element of social relations” (Scott, J. W. 1986. “Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis.” The American Historical Review 91 (5): 1053–1075), is central to such a quest of better understanding both sexual violence and war.

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