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NWSA Journal 18.3 (2006) vii-x

Feminism, Peace, and War
Patsy Schweickart
Berenice Carroll
Janet Afary

The initial impetus for this special issue was the U.S. war on Iraq, which was justified on the specious "intelligence" of the imminent threat of "weapons of mass destruction" in the hands of Saddam Hussein. Many of us in the United States, as well as in other countries, expressed strategic, political, and moral opposition to the war, but our efforts were no match to the Bush administration's determination to go to war, and to their cynical use of the fear and jingoistic nationalism roused by 9/11 to gather public support, and to silence critics. We realized, as we discussed our vision for this issue, that as urgent as the current situation is, we need to take a longer and broader view—to include experiences of women in other conflicts, and to explore contributions of feminist theorists and activists to the project of peace.

This special issue stands at the intersection of peace studies and Women's Studies. Though in some ways closely allied, these fields have had a curious relationship. Despite the widespread persistence of stereotypical notions of a "natural" connection between women and peace, and despite the great expansion in recent scholarship and theory on women, war, terrorism, and peace, peace studies as a field has remained woefully limited in recognizing women's contributions and the importance of feminist and gender analysis. While it is probable that most women's studies scholars share a deep concern for peace and support various organizations and actions of the women's peace movement, there is surprisingly limited focus on feminist analysis of war/peace issues in women's studies programs. Moreover, there have been undercurrents of confusion and even a tacit silencing of debate on the feminist implications of the contemporary world crisis. Many U.S. feminists felt shaken in their worldview by the attacks of 9/11. Some supported the war on Afghanistan as an opportunity to liberate Afghan women from Taliban rule, while others saw this as a deception and vigorously opposed the war, (correctly) predicting the resurgence of warlordism and its brutalities against women. The escalating mirror-images of death and destruction presented by "terrorists" on the one hand, and by U.S., Israeli, and other state terrorism on the other hand, leave many of us deeply uncertain how to comprehend the crisis and take action.

While no special issue of a journal can serve to resolve such profound uncertainty, we hope the diverse and nuanced character of the selections offered here may stimulate critical analysis and provide inspiration and encouragement for the way forward. We include articles on the thought and action of two American women Nobel peace laureates of the past [End Page vii] century (Marilyn Fischer on Jane Addams and Judy Whipps on Emily Greene Balch); on a revolutionary fighter and writer of Nicaragua (Kristine Byron on Doris Tijerino); a critique of current strategic doctrine (Charlene Haddock Seigfried on "unilateralism"); an analysis of how the experience of sexual violence may turn women against other women working for peace (Batya Weinbaum); and a reflection on power and vulnerability, framing 9/11 in the lens of the Jewish festival of Sukkot (Marla Brettschneider). We have also included diverse voices addressing struggles of Afghan women (Sally Kitch and Margaret Mills); Arab, Arab American, and Muslim women and men in the United States (Nada Elia); and the transnational activist redress campaign for Chinese survivors of wartime rape and sexual slavery (Yuki Terazawa).

It is not surprising that many of the articles focus on the Middle East: the sexual politics of Abu Ghraib (Mary Ann Tétreault); women in post-Saddam Iraq (Lucy Brown and David Romano); and Palestinian high school girls in resistance to Israeli occupation (Thomas Ricks). There is also a meditation on the silences among U.S. Jews in regard to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict (Berenice Malka Fisher); an exploration of the tension between an Israeli soldier's commitment to peace...


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