Skip to main content

Gendering peace

The CEU Campus
Tuesday, September 11, 2018, 10:00 am

The Department of Gender Studies

Zero Week Lecture Series 2018-2019


In 1999, after 24-years of violent military occupation by Indonesian forces, the small country of Timor-Leste became host to one of the largest UN peace operations. The operation rested on a liberal paradigm of statehood, including nascent ideas on gender in peacebuilding processes. Drawing on policy documents and field research in Timor-Leste with national organizations, international agencies and UN staff, in this lecture I examine gender policy with a feminist lens, exploring and developing a more complex account of ‘gender’ and ‘women’ in peace operations. I argue that gendered ideologies and power delimit the possibilities of building a gender-just peace, and contribute deep insight into how gendered logics inform peacebuilding processes, and specifically how these play out through the implementation of policy that explicitly seeks to reorder gender relations at sites in which peace operations deploy. By utilizing a single case study, I examine both international and national discourses, and contextualize my analysis of Women, Peace and Security within local histories and contexts. The lecture also develops these insights to critically engage with current peace and conflict literature, particularly that which conceptualizes a ‘local’ or ‘hybrid’ turn in peacebuilding.


Sarah Smith is a professor at the Department of Gender Studies at CEU. Her research interests are broadly in critical peace and conflict studies, international institutions, and security governance, utilising feminist and post-colonial theory. She has lectured in international relations, security and conflict resolution at Monash University, Swinburne University, and Australian Catholic University, in Melbourne, Australia. She has conducted research on the policy and practice of the gender component of peacekeeping, looking especially at the case of Timor-Leste. Sarah has a forthcoming book with Routledge titled Gendering peace: the United Nations in Timor-Leste. She has also published her research with Australian Journal of International Affairs, Global Change, Peace and Security, Manchester University Press, and E-International Relations; and has undertaken research and consultancies for NGOs.

Current and forthcoming publications:

Gendering peace: UN peacebuilding in Timor-Leste. Routledge. Forthcoming.

‘Gendered identities in peacebuilding: an analysis of post-2006 Timor-Leste’, in The politics of identity: place, space and discourse, edited by Christine Agius & Dean Keep. Manchester University Press, 2018.

‘Accountability and sexual exploitation and abuse in peace operations’. Australian Journal of International Affairs, vol. 71, iss. 4, 2017, pp. 405-422.

‘Feminism’, in International Relations Theory, edited by Stephen McGlinchey, Rosie Walters & Christian Scheinpflug. E-International Relations, 2017.