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Victimcy, Girlfriending, Soldiering: Tactic Agency in a Young Woman's Social Navigation of the Liberian War Zone

From: Anthropological Quarterly
Volume 78, Number 2, Spring 2005
pp. 403-430 | 10.1353/anq.2005.0032

Abstract

This study aims to collapse the often gendered opposition of agency and victimhood that typically characterizes the analysis of women's coping strategies in war zones. The term victimcy is proposed to describe the agency of self-staging as victim of war and explore how it is deployed as one tactic—amongst others—in one young Liberian woman's "social navigation" of war zones. Victimcy is thus revealed as a form of self-representation by which a certain form of tactic agency is effectively exercised under the trying, uncertain, and disempowering circumstances that confront actors in warscapes. However the story of Bintu also reveals the complexity of women's strategies, roles, and options as they confront conflicting challenges and opportunities in war zones. While in some circumstances women may take humanitarian aid, in others they may also take up arms. An ethnography of social tactics thus counters reductionist portrayals of women in war zones as merely the passive victims of conflict.



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