My research intersects armed conflict and gender studies, and my career goals are and always have been in mainstreaming gender in International Relations research specifically, and political science research more generally. My academic career began, and remains interested and engaged in, doing this work at the intersection of feminist theory and ethics in the theory and practice of war and conflict. To that end, my first book, a number of my early articles, and many edited volume chapters have focused on aspects of gender and just war theorizing. A current book project (Kill the Women First) with my former Ph.D. student Jessica Peet revisits these issues, linking gender, just war, and intentional civilian victimization.
My work on just war theorizing has always been a representative element of my interest in gender and security in global politics more generally. I have explored gender and security more generally by looking to establish and analyze a research program in Feminist Security Studies (FSS), which theorizes international security generally and war specifically through gender lenses. Book projects like Gendering Global Conflict (Columbia University Press, 2013) and Gender and International Security ask about how war theorizing would change if women’s lives and feminist theory received attention. This work asks research questions about the gendered constitution of the international system, the gendered behavior of states, and the gendered behavior of leaders. In recent years, this work has focused particularly on how thinking about sexuality and incorporating queer theory into IR analysis could enrich it. Articles like “Trans- Gendering IR?” and recent forums in International Studies Review and Millennium are examples of this work. My newest project in this stream of research is a book project called Seducing Territory which explores the role of both gender and sexual activity in state border negotiations over the last five centuries.
My interest in gender and international security generally led, early in my career, to a research interest in women’s political violence. I realized that many people – feminists and traditional scholars alike – simply assumed women’s incapacity to commit political violence. Feminist theorists seemed (if incidentally) to hold women equal to men but without their flaws, while traditional scholars assumed that the security sector was not a place that women would be found. Caron Gentry and I wrote Mothers, Monsters, Whores (Zed Books, 2007) and accompanying articles a decade ago to bring attention to both the existence of politically violent women and to the gendered treatment of those women in legal, media, scholarly, and political contexts. My recent Women as Wartime Rapists: Beyond Sensation and Stereotyping (New York University Press, 2016) explores the media and jurisprudential treatment of women who commit crimes of sexual violence in war and conflict.
In all of this work, my interest in “mainstreaming” gender in the field has caused me to pay attention both to feminist audiences and to traditional scholars, both in terms of how I write and in terms of where I publish. It has also influenced my choice to take on a wide variety of journal (International Feminist Journal of Politics; International Studies Review) and book (several series and several books) editing projects. My desire to make feminist and queer theorizing more visible in the field has combined with my interest in political methodology to develop another facet of my research program – writing about epistemology, methodology, and method in IR research. Recent work with J. Samuel Barkin (“Calculating Critique,” Interpretive Quantification) has critiqued the quantitative/qualitative divide in IR scholarship, suggesting that methods should not be assumed to be useful for only one methodology. Continuing work in this area include a book in progress called Doubting Dogma (questioning theoretical categorization in the field), as well as journal articles on what theoretical and epistemological failure mean.