The Women and US Foreign Policy Interview Project at the Institute examines the multidimensional relationship between US Foreign Policy (USFP) and women.
The role of women as both makers and recipients of US foreign policy has become more pronounced in recent years. From Jeane Kirkpatrick in the 1980s and Madeleine Albright in the 1990s to Condoleezza Rice in the 2000s and Hillary Clinton today, women have achieved significant foreign policy power in the United States. Many mainstream scholars however, continue to underrepresent these significant changes in USFP. Similarly, little attention is given to how their gender may or may not impact on their statecraft. This project seeks to reverse this trend by compiling a comprehensive resource for researchers to draw on, which includes interviews with significant players in USFP.
The increase in the number and rank of elite women in the US government is mirrored by an explicit gender agenda within US foreign policy, which aims to promote women’s rights. This resource will provide detail into this gender concerned foreign policy by questioning the people involved. To add a further dimension to the relationship between foreign policy and women this project also examines how USFP, and in particular regime change and democratisation, has directly impacted the lives of women in affected states. This examination is achieved by asking these women their experiences of USFP.
This project supports researchers’ investigation of a wide variety of political issues as well as gender-based and historical studies. For example, for political scientists, a wide variety of foreign policy issues such as the US interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq are discussed, for gender-focused researchers the role of women in the USFP institutional framework, and for historians, the oral accounts of what was going on inside USFP circles in regards to specific events, such as former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s explanation for not intervening in the 1994 Rwanda genocide.
In order to achieve this examination the project has three prongs. First, it is currently creating a large repository of interview data relating to this relationship. Second, an international conference discussing this relationship will be held in mid-2013. Third, based on the papers presented at the conference an edited collection will be published as a monograph. The second and third prongs support the repository and provide an academic focus for the collated interview material. The aim is for the online hub, conference, and book to mutually reinforce each other. The repository already exists, and interviews are constantly being uploaded. The conference and book will also help promote the repository to a wider academic audience and show how it can inform academic discussion.
The online repository of interview data is housed in an online hub where academics, researchers and others can access the interview material, guide the development of the project, engage with others also interested in politics, gender and history, and read the project blog.
Interviews are conducted with four categories of people: women involved in making or shaping US foreign policy; people who are involved in promoting a gender-concerned foreign policy; women affected by US foreign policy, and experts discussing different dimensions of the relationship between women and US foreign policy.
Women involved in making or shaping US foreign policy
In order to understand the experiences of women within the infrastructure of US foreign policy this category concentrates on female interviewees that have been decision-makers, policy-makers, practitioners, and either theorists, academics or analysts, as well as people who have implemented a gendered dimension to USFP.
People involved in promoting a gender concerned foreign policy
In interviewing people in this category the aim is to illuminate the process and content of policies, strategies, programmes and projects that make up a gender concerned foreign policy.
Women affected by US foreign policy
It is important to explore the attitudes and experiences of women that have been directly affected by the policies, strategies, programmes and projects implemented by the US.
Experts that can talk about the dimensions to this relationship
This category of interviewees helps contextualise US foreign policy and women by detailing the inter-connecting relationships between the three other categories.
To find out more information about the project please contact Matthew Hill.
The project is organising two panels at the Globalisation and American Grand Strategy in a Time of Austerity conference to be held at the University of Warwick, September 16-18 2013. The conference is organised in association with the BISA US Foreign Policy working group. The two panels on women and US foreign policy will be composed of academics through a call for papers in early 2013 and invited speakers.
The topics to discuss will concentrate on aspects of the following three themes. The first discusses women involved in US foreign policy, second examines women directly affected by US foreign policy, and third, explores the relationship gender equality has with US national interests and values. By breaking it down into these three themes we can understand better the various dimensions of women and US foreign policy in order to create an understanding of the environment within which these two positions connect with each other. The rationale for these panels is to launch the project and provide an academic focus for the collated interview material. The two panels will hopefully continue future research into gender and US politics in the foreign policy dimension by combining the analysis of women involved in and affected by USFP. This examination is achieved in both theoretical and practical ways.
Theme One: Women and a gendered US foreign policy
Examine frameworks that provide an understanding of the varying roles and structures that determine the role of women in USFP and the role of gender equality within USFP.
Case-studies that examine the introduction of a gender-aware USFO and the role of female US government personnel in foreign countries. A good example of a specific aspect would be to look at the US government implemented female gender-focussed programmes and whether they were successful in addressing the needs of Iraqi society, specifically Iraqi women. Or, for example, an examination of the role of women in female engagement teams (FETs) in Afghanistan.
Theme Two: Women affected by US foreign policy
Examine frameworks that can provide an understanding of the varying ways in which women are directly affected USFP.
Examine the impact of post-9/11 US nation building on women in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq.
Examine policies developed to fulfil the USG’s gender requirements through to their implementation by FP practitioners such as USAID, or US Marines personnel. To examine the cultural forces at play in these interactions between the US and the target country. Interactions including, for example, those between the society that receives aid from the US, or the daily interactions between individuals (taken as agents of societies) such as an AID officer and an Afghan NGO worker.Examples of other case-studies include examining the role of Iraqi female elected officials (such as provincial councillors) and how they interact with the agents of the USG in Iraq, or the role of female Afghani recipients of US aid. In particular it could tap into the discussion of power dynamics between international actors and local actors (including recipients of aid).
Theme Three: Gender equality, a national interest or value?
Examine, through the values and national interests’ lenses, the role of gender equality as an element to US foreign policy.
The role of gender equality in the national interest framework – can it be trumped by other national interests?
The aim is to have the best papers from the 2013 Women and US foreign policy conference included in an edited collection with the Institute for the Study of the Americas’ publication house.