Prof. Elisabeth Jean WoodProf. Elisabeth Jean Wood
Public lecture by Elisabeth Jean Wood (Yale University) on June, 21st

21. Juni 2017, 18 Uhr,
Gästehaus der Universität Bremen,
Auf dem Teerhof 58, 28199 TBremen
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Much of the literature whether academic, policy or journalism holds that when rape occurs frequently on the part of an armed organization, it is a strategy (or tactic or weapon) of war. But this presumption does not explain the well-documented variation in conflict-related rape. In particular, some cases of conflict-related rape are better understood as a practice: it has not been purposefully adopted as policy for group objectives at some level of command but is nonetheless tolerated by commanders and driven by social interactions among combatants. Departing from principal agent models of political violence, I emphasize the horizontal, social interactions between combatants in addition to the usual vertical relationship between the combatant and commander to develop a typology of conflict-related rape that distinguishes between rape as a practice and as organizational policy. I analyze when rape is likely to be prevalent as a practice and as a strategy, emphasizing not only the gendered norms and beliefs of the society from which combatants come but also those of combatants and commanders as re-shaped by socialization processes within the organization. I conclude with a brief assessment of the argument’s implications and suggest that the typology is relevant for analysis of political violence in general. 

Elisabeth Jean Wood is Professor of Political Science, International and Area Studies at Yale University and a member of the External Faculty of the Santa Fe Institute. She is the author of Forging Democracy from Below: Insurgent Transitions in South Africa and El Salvador and Insurgent Collective Action and Civil War in El Salvador. Among her recent articles and book chapters are “Ideology and Civil War: Instrumental Adoption and Beyond,” “Multiple Perpetrator Rape during War,” “Transnational Dynamics of Civil War,” “Rape during War Is Not Inevitable: Variation in Wartime Sexual Violence”.

The presentation takes place in the framework of the workshop “International Interventions against Sexual and Gender Based Violence in Conflict”, organized by Alex Veit and Lisa Tschörner. Admission to the general public is free of charge. To register please send an email to




Imprint on a sweatshirt in Goma: Together we can stop sexual violence Imprint on a sweatshirt in Goma: Together we can stop sexual violence
Workshop vom 21.-23.06.2017 im Gästehaus Teerhof der Universität Bremen

Download the Program as PDF.

In recent decades, political and academic discussions of conflict-related sexualised and gender based violence (CRSV) have made important advances. CRSV has been recognised on the international stage as an important social and security problem. International organisations and NGOs commit large resources to reduce CRSV and to alleviate its effects. Their projects seek to change social conceptions of gender and violence in local contexts in ways that previously have not been envisaged by humanitarian and military interventions. At the same time, a lively academic discussion has highlighted the complex reasons behind CRSV. Moreover, practices of intervention have been critically scrutinized in important ways.

Despite increasing attention to the subject, scholars and practitioners are still far from finding common grounds when it comes to defining causes and consequences of CRSV or the appropriate ways of tackling the problem. Research has sometimes produced contradictory results and continues to struggle with the problem of data collection in this sensible field. Without empirically-based knowledge of the problem, interventions run the risk of generating undesired effects. Also the international focus on CRSV may have led to unintended consequences of intervention.

The aim of the workshop is to bring together scholars from different fields working on questions related to causes and consequences of CRSV, intervention practices, and evolving (gendered) power relations between intervention organizations, host states and societies.

The workshop is funded by the DFG.

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International Intervention against sexualised violence in conflict regions

a research project, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), seeks to understand the impact of international projects and programs against sexual and gender-based violence in conflict zones. During the next three years, InIIS-researchers Alex Veit and Lisa Tschörner will seek to analyse how interaction between international and local actors produces new political and social realities. Do international interventions fulfil their aims of reducing SVC and alleviating its consequences? Do projects and programs produce unintended outcomes and side-effects? The investigation is based on a qualitative comparison of two case regions within the Democratic Republic of Congo.