Unruly wives in the household: Toward feminist genealogies for peace research

DOI10.1177/0010836720938397
AuthorCatia Cecilia Confortini,Minna Lyytikäinen,Annick TR Wibben,Marjaana Jauhola,Punam Yadav
Date01 March 2021
Publication Date01 March 2021
SubjectArticles
https://doi.org/10.1177/0010836720938397
Cooperation and Conflict
2021, Vol. 56(1) 3 –25
© The Author(s) 2020
Article reuse guidelines:
sagepub.com/journals-permissions
DOI: 10.1177/0010836720938397
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Unruly wives in the household:
Toward feminist genealogies
for peace research
Minna Lyytikäinen, Punam Yadav ,
Annick TR Wibben , Marjaana Jauhola
and Catia Cecilia Confortini
Abstract
Feminist scholars and activists have historically been written out of peace research, despite
their strong presence in the early stages of the field. In this article, we develop the concept of
“wifesization” to illustrate the process through which feminist and feminized interventions have
been reduced to appendages of the field, their contributions appropriated for its development
but unworthy of mention as independent producers of knowledge. Wifesization has trickle-down
effects, not just for knowledge production, but also for peacebuilding practice. We propose new
feminist genealogies for peace research that challenge and redefine the narrow boundaries of the
field, in the form of a patchwork quilt including early theorists, utopian writing, oral history, and
indigenous knowledge production. Reflections draw on the authors’ engagements with several
archives rich in cultures and languages of peace, not reducible to a “single story.” Recovering
wifesized feminist contributions to peace research, our article offers a new way of constructing
peace research canons that gives weight to long-standing, powerful, and plural feminist voices, in
order to make peace scholarship more inclusive and ultimately richer.
Keywords
Feminist peace research, India, Nepal, Sámiland, wifesization, women
Introduction
The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom’s . . . Peace Research Newsletter,
edited by Elise Boulding (wife of Kenneth Boulding and later to become an academic of
considerable standing in her own right), served an important information function for
international peace research in the early years, and also as a link to peace activists.
(Gleditsch et al., 2014: 146)
Corresponding author:
Punam Yadav, Lecturer, Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction, University College London, Gower
Street, London, WC1E 6BT, UK.
Email: p.yadav@ucl.ac.uk
938397CAC0010.1177/0010836720938397Cooperation and ConflictLyytikäinen et al.
research-article2020
Article
4 Cooperation and Conflict 56(1)
Our project uses the above-quoted article reviewing the 50-year history of peace research
as a jumping off point. Peace research as we know it today would not exist without the
work of Elise Boulding. Yet, in this quotation we see her framed primarily through her
marital status and her connection to a male scholar. To see her introduced as “the wife of”
in an article recounting the birth of peace research in the influential Journal of Peace
Research (JPR) encouraged us to reflect on what and who has been marginalized in
peace research and start tracing a genealogy of feminist engagements with peace that
challenges and redefines the narrow boundaries of the discipline. This analysis, by a
group of feminist scholars at different stages in their careers, develops the concept of
wifesization to illustrate how feminist interventions have been reduced to being append-
ages to the field, their contributions appropriated for its development but unworthy of
mention as independent producers of knowledge.
Feminist scholars and activists have often been written out of our field, despite strong
feminist presence in early peace research. Exclusionary and disciplining practices con-
tinue to define peace research to the detriment of a more robust and comprehensive
analytical scholarship. Recovering neglected and marginalized feminist contributions to
peace research, our article offers a new way of constructing peace research canons that
gives weight to long-standing, powerful, and plural feminist voices, and offers new inter-
ventions to make peace scholarship more inclusive and ultimately richer. This article
challenges patriarchal and Eurocentric disciplining processes regarding themes, method-
ologies, and contributors, exploring unruly archives to present the beginning of alterna-
tive peace studies genealogies. It is also an internal feminist dialogue where we explore
the challenges that alternative archives and knowledges from multiple locales pose to
established white feminist peace scholarship. As scholars located in institutions in the
US and Europe, we respond to Gurminder Bhambra’s (2017) call to “acknowledge the
ways in which race has been fundamental to the configuration of the modern world,”
including its construction and legitimation of knowledge systems.
After introducing the concept of wifesization, we offer several alternative accounts of
how varied types of contributions to peace studies can move us toward a more inclusive
and better field of peace research.
Wifesization
The policing of the boundaries of academic disciplines often operates through the femi-
nization of those voices that challenge the epistemological and methodological assump-
tions of the dominant paradigms operating in a particular field. Feminist scholars have
identified feminization as a process by which certain policies, groups, individuals, and
theories are assigned feminine characteristics; it involves devaluing and making wom-
en’s contributions invisible vis-à-vis masculinized policies, groups, individuals, method-
ologies, and theories (e.g., the low politics–high politics distinction).
In this article we build on these insights about feminization and draw inspiration from
Maria Mies (1986: 45−46), whose term housewifization refers to an “exploitative social
relation” where “the surplus-value-gathering labor by women is appropriated and consumed
by others,” to develop the notion of wifesization. Wifesization describes the process through
which women’s contributions not only are devalued, dismissed, or erased as the concept

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