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  • Introduction to Special Section of Social Politics:Postconflict Care Economies
  • Jacqui True

This special section focuses on how postconflict societies depend on large and under-recognized care economies that, because they are not adequately recognized or supported by societies, states, and international actors, deplete women's lives. It contributes to the initiative to bring feminist scholars working in the area of security studies and international political economy into more sustained conversation with each other (Elias and Rai, 2015; True 2012). Current knowledge gaps on women's security and empowerment in postconflict transitions are compounded by what feminist scholars have noted as the "camping" between feminist security studies and feminist (international) political economy (Elias 2015; Martin Del Almagro and Ryan 2019). Feminist scholars have sought to connect the gendered political economy processes that undergird conflicts and peace settlements and to integrate feminist political economy and security analysis (Bergeron et al. 2017).

The special section aims to, first, advance the development of new analytical frameworks informed by a feminist political economy approach to violence (True 2012) and by the ongoing work on the "depletion through social reproduction" (DSR) model (Rai et al. 2014) to examine postconflict situations. This combined framework empirically identifies how postconflict states and societies depend on large and under-recognized care economies that deplete women's labor; and their opportunities to contribute to the recovery of their communities and societies including participating in the formal economy and political sphere. Bringing these two frameworks together is vital because it allows us to examine the continuum of structural and physical violence and the legacy of conflict and/or authoritarian regimes (see Davies and True 2015). The framework has import for national and international institutions tasked with economic reconstruction and recovery, as they have responsibilities for redressing these inequalities to ensure sustainable peace and to prevent the recurrence of violence and conflict. [End Page 535]

Second, the articles in the special section incorporate distinct methodologies for analyzing gender, women's labor, and postconflict insecurities. This includes identifying concrete applications of participatory methods of analysis in Samanthi Gunawardana and Victoria Pereyra Iraola's article on spaces of seclusion, exclusion, and depletion in both factories and prisons in Sri Lanka and Argentina; comparative analysis to reveal key differences in how the Iraqi state targets social reproduction to instrumentalize everyday life in service of postcolonial state building and war-making, and how the Israeli state targets Palestinian social reproduction largely to erase Palestinian life in line with a settler colonial logic in Yasmin Chilmeran and Nicola Pratt's article; and discussion of ethnographic time use survey analysis conducted in conflict-affected households in the Ukraine in Rai, True, and Tanyag's paper. Relatedly, the articles examine to what extent national and global governance mechanisms implicitly depend or actively rely on women's contributions in the care economy and at what costs for the sustainability of women's labor and women's formal economic and political participation postconflict.

The special section, therefore, helps to develop new ways of thinking about social reproduction and its costs to individual women and men, households, and communities. They document the value of women's economic contributions in postconflict contexts, addressing experiences and evidence of DSR and under conditions of violence at a multiscalar level—from local to international, in Argentina, Egypt, Ukraine, Iraq, Palestine, and Sri Lanka. Social reproduction intersects with processes of structural and interpersonal violence in households, in conflict areas, in state institutions, in export-processing zones in Sri Lanka, and at the outskirts of prisons.

The authors highlight the challenges that women, in particular, face given that they carry out most of the labor of caring and provisioning for others. The articles critically analyze the intensifying costs of this labor in "post" conflict settings where people are often physically injured and/or mentally traumatized by violence and forced militarization, and often economic and social infrastructures have suffered irreparable damage. For instance, in their article, Yasmin Chilmeran and Nicola Pratt reveal the importance of women's reproductive labor in processes of state building and regime consolidation in the context of the geopolitics of social reproduction in Middle Eastern contexts. They argue that state support for social reproduction has...


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pp. 535-537
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