Seminar with Professor Christine Sylvester
, p.t. University of Lund, Sweden.
She will be talking about the Experiencing War project that she has directed since 2008, and the book of the same title that came out this year as an edited first volume from the project. Experiencing War is about studying war as people's experiences with/in war zones and from a distance. The purpose is not to glorify war or even accept it as a form of disagreement politics. Rather, the project starts from the premise that neither war not peace can be understood unless there is what the anthropogist Veena Das calls a descent into the ordinary, a decentralized ordinary that has many authority centers of war, local and international.
An emphasis on people's experiences of war is a departure in the fields of International Relations and Peace Relations from abstract and schematic analyses of the two related phenomena -- IR by starting often with states as key war actors and causes of war, and peace studies by looking often at elements, institutions, and processes of peace building and less at people in war.
Experiencing War foregrounds physical and emotional aspects of war as they are registered by bodies differentially located in war, and part of the project entails exploring what experience is, what the body is, and even what war is when studied up from people rather than down from military and international elite points of view. The implications of war for feminist analysis is also central to the project, as the first volume suggests, and interdisciplinarity is essential. The talk will highlight several chapters from the Experiencing War book, which introduce interesting angles, and go on to discuss some of the conceptual challenges the project faces.
Christine Sylvester is a Professor of International Relations at the University of Connecticut (as of January 2012) and currently a guest professor in Political Science at Lund University. For the 2010-2011 academic year she was the Kerstin Hesselgren professor in Sweden, based in the School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg.
Sylvester is the author of five books -- two on feminist international relations, two on Zimbabwe, one on art museums and international relations. She is editor of three collections, including the recent Experiencing War (2011) and five volumes of Major Works in Feminist International Relations (2010) -- and editor of a book series for Routledge called War, Feminism, and International Relations.
Professor Sylvester is also editor of a Forum discussion in the International Studies Review on Emotion and the Feminist IR Research, which will be in print in December. While at Lund, she is writing a book entitled War, Feminism, and International Relations. Sylvester has held regular academic appointments in the USA, Australia, the Netherlands, and the UK.