Research gaps and directions for future research: centring EU militarism and studying security abroad

In the following, 1 suggest that feminist scholarship on EU security and defence policy should advance its research agenda, first, by centring militarism in CSDP and beyond and, second, by challenging more radically how the EU understands and enacts‘security’. Such a research agenda implies a more systematic analysis of how EU institutions, policies and discourses are gendered and militarised and a move towards studying EU security policies bottom-up.

Feminist research should analyse militarism — defined ‘as the preparation for war, its normalization and legitimation’ (Stavrianakis and Stern 2018, 4) — in its study of CSDP. As Basham (2018, 33) highlights, most (critical) scholars talk about security but omit militarism. Drawing on Critical Military Studies, feminist scholarship should take the EU’s military power seriously (Hoijtink and Muehlenhoff 2020) and study military institutions within CSDP to uncover how ideas of masculinity and femininity define military spheres. Centring militarism means analysing military masculinities and showing how they make possible the ‘practices of militarization and war’ (Duncanson 2015, 235) and (re)produce our everyday understandings of masculinity (Hutchings 2004). This also implies researching EU military operations, building on existing feminist research on international peacekeeping missions, gender and WPS (Higate 2007; Kronsell and Svedberg 2012; Reeves 2012).

Moreover, scholars should attend to how the boundaries between the military and civilian sphere are blurred (Basham 2018). This leads to an analysis of gender, security and militarism beyond CSDP and towards a study of how other EU policies are increasingly militarised and dominated by different military masculinities (Hoijtink and Muehlenhoff 2020). For example, since 2017 the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP), part of EU development policy (see Debusscher in this volume) and financed through the EU budget, ‘may be used to build the capacity of military actors in partner countries, under the exceptional circumstances as set out in paragraph 3, to deliver development activities and security for development activities’ (Article 3a of the PE-CONS 54/1/17). Militarism becomes normalised beyond security policies, including development, economic, migration and climate change policies (cf. Allwood 2019). Feminist research has to interrogate the consequences for gender relations and WPS, and how militarism affects the security of women and marginalised people.

This relates to the second focus of a future research agenda, which is a more serious engagement with what ‘security’ is, how it is understood and enacted in EU security and defence. Here, scholars can engage more with the Feminist Security Studies literature, which has interrogated dominant security understandings and shown how they have co-opted gender for the legitimation of military interventions. For example, concerns for women’s rights have served as discursive legitimisation for military interventions, such as in Afghanistan (Shepherd 2006). States and international organisations have implemented the WPS agenda by increasing gender equality in their militaries for the goal of national security, (cf. Wright 2016; Wright 2019). Similarly, National Action Plans for USNCR 1325 are often legitimised by reference to state security goals instead of security needs of people affected (Cohn 2004; Pratt and Richter-Devroe 2011). Feminist scholars ask ‘whose security’ is being produced or protected by policies. One avenue for research is to study how new developments in EU security and defence policy change what is understood and done as ‘security’. Until now, what we have seen is that the EU tends to reproduce statist discourses (cf. Borg 2015). The discourses of threat and protection underlying the reforms of CSDP between 2016 and 2020, for example, resonate with long internalised ideas of defending state’s borders, territories and populations (Hoijtink and Muehlenhoff 2020).

Linked to that, feminist research should challenge the EU’s understanding of security more fundamentally. Can we imagine a different form of security policy that would radically break with traditional security understandings? One way of getting closer to answering this question could be to focus on alternative stories of (in)security moving from the EU level to the abroad and local.‘Telling security narratives from the ground up’ (Wibben 2011,21) implies fieldwork in contexts where the EU intervenes, e.g. with civilian and military missions, and making the experiences and perspectives of women and marginalised people visible.

Research on militarism in EU policies, institutions and discourses and the study of security bottom-up have both to be informed by an intersectional understanding of gender (in)equality, taking other categories of discrimination such as class, race/ethnicity, religion and ability into account. The concept of intersectionality (Crenshaw 1989) underlines that the interaction of different categories, especially race and gender, creates a specific experience of marginalisation (see Solanke in this volume). Some of the above discussed contributions raise questions about race, for example when Kronsell (2016a) describes how CSDP is constituted by ideas of white protector masculinity going out into a dangerous world shaped by the bad masculinity of'Others’ (see Hearn et al. in this volume). While future work should continue paying attention to how militarism is legitimised through the creation of these racialised images, it also needs to investigate whether and how CSDP acknowledges and affects intersectionality’. For example, which women benefit from EU policies? The new Gender Equality Strategy (COM(2020)152 final) and GAP II (SEC(2010) 265 final) mention intersectionality.The Strategic Approach often refers to women and girls (and sometimes men and boys) ‘from diverse backgrounds’ (e.g. 15086/18/ EC,7), yet, it fails to seriously consider the implications of an intersectional approach. Otherwise, intersectionality has not been brought up in the WPS context, not even by the European Parliament, which has a good track record on intersectionality EU-internally (cf. Lombardo and Rolandsen Agustin 2016). In addition, despite the Parliament’s strong support for WPS, it has not come out as a strong critique of the EU’s development of military instruments since 2016, hence failing to consider the implications for the goals of UN SCR. 1325 and the effects on the security of people in the Global South. Similarly, policy-makers and scholars should pay attention to whether and how LGBTI+ rights and people are considered and impacted.

To conclude, existing feminist work has analysed CSDP institutions, policies and discourses to show whether and how gender is considered and to deconstruct the gendered and racialised discourses. Future scholarship should analyse militarism in EU institutions, policies and discourses more systematically and demonstrate what militarism does to security and gender. Moreover, feminist research has to challenge dominant security understandings more radically by telling different stories about security and studying bottom-up. This is even more important in times when the EU and its member states are increasing cooperation and spending in security and defence and the EU wants to become a more masculine power in international relations.

 
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