Course code EDS381

EDS381 Feminist and Critical IR Theory

Norsk emneinformasjon

Search for other courses here

Showing course contents for the educational year starting in 2016 .

Course responsible: Kirsti Stuvøy
ECTS credits: 10
Faculty: Faculty of Landscape and Society
Teaching language: EN
(NO=norsk, EN=Engelsk)
Limits of class size:
Max 20 students
Teaching exam periods:
This course starts in Spring parallel. This course has teaching/evaluation in Spring parallel.
Course frequency: Biannually, even years. Next time spring 2018.
First time: 2014V
Preferential right:
M-IR students
Course contents:

This course addresses feminist and critical IR approaches that gained ground in the discipline as the cold war came to an end. It seeks to understand these analytical approaches in conjunction with historical changes in this era and in response to conventional IR theory. In the post-cold war era Western powers have for example justified humanitarian interventions and war with ethical concerns. The liberation of women and gender equality has famously been used to justify the war in Afghanistan. What are we to make of this development of ethical foreign policy? Is the focus on gender equality and women a move towards greater freedom, equality and justice for all, or is it also reproducing global power structures and the legitimacy of military tools? Liberal norms are also at the core of the struggle between Russia and the West. Russia¿s position and use of the argument of a responsibility to protect own citizens attracted criticism in the war in Georgia in 2008 and more recently in Ukraine. While the Russian government is tackling the tension with the West, Russian civil society is struggling to defend liberal freedoms in Russia. Is there an interconnection between domestic political struggles and Russian foreign policy in the post-communist era? Has international norm evolution in this era provoked Russian foreign policies? How has democratisation and post-communist transformation triggered renewed strategic struggles between the West and Russia, which also involves other emerging global powers? These are among the questions motivating the exploration in this course of feminist and critical IR theory, how new conceptions of security and legitimacy have evolved in post-cold war international politics.

International relations theory, traditionally drawing on Thomas Hobbes and a realist perspective, explains how the dualism of anarchy/order and the principle of sovereignty structure international security policy. Feminist and critical IR theory brings discussion of gender, equality, justice and responsibility into this terrain. The agenda in this course is to get a solid understanding of these perspectives and, in the process, learn how they can be used to think about post-cold war international politics, and beyond. The selection of readings is conceptual, analytical and empirical, and to be supplemented students independent search for sources on contemporary global politics.

Learning outcome:

Through this course, we will strive to achieve that students have the following learning outcomes:

Knowledge and competence:

  • The student can give an overview of key international political issues in the post-cold war era and how these are assessed in critical IR theories
  • The student can explain the development of the women, peace and security agenda in international politics and discuss critical assessments of this development
  • The student can explain key aspects in the core IR literature on feminist and critical approaches and apply these perspectives in scholarly discussions with peers as well as in writing assignments
  • The student has training in communicating in writing and orally, to peers, the complexities of global politics, challenges to sovereignty, security, etc.
  • The student can reflect critically on new thinking and ways of approaching global political change and solution to global challenges

Writing skills and oral presentations:

  • The student has in written assignments applied feminist and critical IR theory and discussed their contribution to understanding global political developments in the post-cold war era
  • The student has attended team work and conducted a presentation of contemporary global political developments using IR theory and reflected on relevance for developments of global political community in the years ahead
  • The student can use peer-to-peer methods to give feedback on the written assignments and oral presentations of other students and to improve own work 
Learning activities:

Form The course is organised into three parts that build upon each other. During the first part (three weeks), there is a combination of one weekly lecture (2x45min) and one seminar (2x45min). This provides overview of main concepts, theories and key changes in international politics in the post-cold war era. The fourth week is a project week (part two). The project week is completed with an oral presentation day (week after submission of paper to be completed during project week). In the following six weeks, there are two weekly meetings (2x2x45min). Before coming to these meetings students use the course literature to prepare for discussion on assigned topics (provided in course outline at the beginning of the course). Preparation is key to focused and interesting discussion from which we all will benefit. At the end of this course, a summary lecture/discussion is organised. 

In sum, the learning activities in this course include lectures, seminar, oral presentation, self-study and active participation.

Teaching support:
Office hours and procedures are established at the first class meeting. A course schedule is handed out at the same time.

Barnett, Michael & Raymond Duvall, 2005, ¿Power in International Politics¿, International Organization, 59(1): 39-75.

Chandler, David (2003) Rhetoric without Responsibility: The Attraction of 'Ethical' Foreign Policy. British Journal of Politics and International Relations 5(3): 295-316 (21p).

Cohn, Carol. 2008. "Mainstreaming Gender in UN Security Policy: A Path to Political Transformation?" in: S. M. Rai og G. Waylen (eds.) Global Governance Feminist Perspectives. New York: Palgrave Macmillan: (185-206).

Fraser, Nancy (2013) "Feminism, Capitalism and the Cunning of History" i  Nancy Fraser (red.) Fortunes of Feminism. From State-Managed Capitalism to Neoliberal Crisis. London and New York: Verso: 209-226 (17p).

Gel¿man, Vladimir (2015) The vicious circle of post-Soviet neopatrimonialism in Russia. Post-Soviet Affairs, DOI:

Hansen, L 2010, 'Ontologies, epistemologies, methodologies', in: Laura Shepherd (ed.), Gender Matters in Global Politics: A feminist introduction to International Relations. 2nd ed, Routledge, London, pp. 14-23.

Hansen, L. (2013). Security as practice: discourse analysis and the Bosnian war. Routledge, Chapters 2-3.

Harding, Sandra 1986: ¿From Feminist Empiricism to Feminist Standpoint Epistemologies¿. Chapter Six in The Science Question in Feminism. Itacha: Cornell University Press, pgs. 136-162.

Harrington, C. 2011. «Resolution 1325 and Post-Cold War Feminist Politics». International Feminist Journal of Politics, 13(4): 557¿575.

Henry, M. (2013) ¿Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in UN Peacekeeping Missions: Problematising Current Responses.¿ In Phillips A, Wilson K and Madhok S (eds.) Gender, Agency and Coercion: Thinking Gender in Transnational Times. London: Routledge, 122-142. (21 pages)

Hutchings, Kimberly (1999) "Feminism, Universalism, and the Ethics of International Politics" i  Vivienne; O'Gorman Jabri, Eleanor (red.) Women, Culture, and International Relations. Boulder, London: Lynne Rienner Publishers: 17-37 (20p).

Hutchings, Kimberly, 2001. ¿The Nature of Critique in Critical International Relations Theory¿, in: Jones, Richard Wyn, ed.: Critical Theory and World Politics. Boulder, London: Lynne Rienner Publishers: 79-90.

Huysmans, Jef, 'Migrants as a Security Problem: Dangers of 'Securitizing' Societal Issues' in Migration and European Integration. The Dynamics of Inclusion and Exclusion, ed. Robert; Thränhardt Miles, Dietrich (eds.) (London: Pinter Publishers, 1995), 53-72.

Jennings, K.M. and V. Nikoli¿-Ristanovi¿ (2009) UN peacekeeping economies and local sex industries: connections and implications, MicroCon Working Paper 17. Brighton: MicroCon. Available at:  (31 pages) [this is a good overview of PK economies and issues around SEA/ the ZTP]

Keohane, Robert (1998) Beyond Dichotomy: Conversations between International Relations and Feminist Theory. International Studies Quarterly 42(2): 193-198.

Lippe, B. v. d. (2012). «The White Woman's Burden: 'Feminist' War Rhetoric and the Phenomenon of Co-Optation». NORA - Nordic Journal of Feminist Gender Research, 20(1): 19-36 (17p).

Marysia Zalewski, ''Well, What Is the Feminist Perspective on Bosnia?'', International Affairs 71, no. 2 (1995): 339-356.  

Mearsheimer, John (2014) `Why the Ukraine Crisis is the West¿s Fault. The Liberal Delusions That Provoked Putin.¿ Foreign Affairs, Sept/Oct Issue

Michaelis, Loralea and Genevieve Fuji Johnson, 2013: Political Responsibility Refocused, in: Political Responsibility Refocused. Thinking Justice after Iris Marion Young, eds. Michaelis and Johnson. Toronto, Buffalo, London: University of Toronto Press, pp. 3-20.

Neumann, I. B. (2008). Discourse analysis (pp. 61-77). Palgrave Macmillan.

Nicola Pratt, Reconceptualizing Gender, Reinscribing Racial¿Sexual Boundaries in International Security: The Case of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on ¿Women, Peace and Security¿, International Studies Quarterly, 2013, 57

Oldenburg, S. (2015) ¿The Politics of Love and Intimacy in Goma, Eastern DR Congo: Perspectives on the Market of Intervention as Contact Zone¿, Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, 9:3, 316-333 (17 pages).

Sakwa, Richard (2008) `¿New Cold War or Twenty Years¿ Crisis? Russia and International Politics. International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs) 84(2): 241-267.

Shepherd, Laura 2010: Sex or Gender? Bodies in World Politics and Why Gender Matters, in: Shepherd (ed.), Gender Matters in Global Politics: A feminist introduction to International Relations. 2nd ed, Routledge, London, pp. 3-16.

Shepherd, Laura J. (2008) ¿Power and Authority in the Production of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325.¿ International Studies Quarterly 52: 383-404.

Shevtsova, Lilia (2012) ´Russia under Putin: Titianic looking for its iceberg?´ Communist and Post-Communist Studies, 45 (Issues 3-4): 209-216.

Sylvester, Christine 1994: The Palette of Feminist Epistemologies and Practices. In Sylvester: Feminist Theory and International Relations in a Postmodern Era, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pgs. 30-67.

Tickner, Ann J. (1997) You Just Don't Understand: Troubled Engagements between Feminists and IR Theorists. International Studies Quarterly 41: 611-632.

Tickner, Ann J. (2005) What Is Your Research Program? Some Feminist Answers to International Relations Methodological Questions. International Studies Quarterly 49(1): 1-21.

Tickner, Ann J. (2006) "Feminism Meets International Relations: Some Methodological Issues" in: Brooke A. Ackerly, Maria Stern & Jacqui True (red.) Feminist Methodologies for International Relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: (19-41). (available in pdf)

Tryggestad, Torunn L., 2009: ¿Trick or Treat? The UN and Implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security¿, Global Governance, 15(): 539-557.

UN Expert Report (2013). Do not need to read appendices. Available at: (22 pages exclusive appendices) [an extremely thorough and incisive analysis of how this policy is playing out `on the ground¿, and why it is failing]

Van Munster, R. (2007). Review Essay: Security on a Shoestring: A Hitchhiker's Guide to Critical Schools of Security in Europe. Cooperation and Conflict, 42(2), 235-243.

Weber, Cynthia 1994: `Good Girls, Little Girls and Bad Girls: Male Paranoia in Robert Keohane¿s Critique of Feminist International Relations.¿ Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 23: 337-49.

Young, 2006: ¿Responsibility and Global Justice: A Social Connection Model¿, Social Philosophy and Policy 23, 102-130.

Young, Iris Marion (2003) The Logic of Masculinist Protection: Reflections on the Current Security State. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 29(1): 1-25 (24p)

Young, Iris Marion 2004: ¿Responsibility and Global Labor Justice¿, Journal of Political Philosophy 12 (2004): 365-388.

Zalewski, Marysia 2010, ´Feminist International Relation. Making Sense¿¿ in Laura Shepherd (ed.), op. cit., pp. 28-43. 



Recommended reading prior to course:

Cynthia Enloe, 1989: Bananas, Beaches & Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press.


Supplementary reading provided in course outline available on Fronter. 

General knowledge of international relations theory, and/or undergraduate courses in relevant social sciences.
Recommended prerequisites:
This course is designed for master students in international relations and students¿ involvement lie at the core of this course. This implies responsibilities, but also opportunities for students. You must come prepared to each weekly class. When you do, we all will benefit from focused discussion and can learn from one another.
Mandatory activity:
Assignment  Seminar presentation of assigned reading. Sign-up at the beginning of course.

The exam is divided into two parts: Exam, part I (40%): Week four of this course is a project week with teamwork. Groups of 2-3 students define a topic and apply feminist and critical perspectives in the analysis. At the end of the week, the group submits a paper, of 6000 words. The group also prepares an oral presentation, using suitable technology if warranted. A project-presentation day is organised the week after. All groups present topic and result of analysis, as well as provide feedback to fellow students. Feedback is also provided orally from course convener. Paper is graded at the end of course (together with exam, part II).

Exam, part II (60%): Individual termpaper of 6000 words. Further details regarding topic are announced during course. 

Nominal workload:
300 hours.
Entrance requirements:
General knowledge of international relations theory, and/or undergraduate courses in relevant social sciences.
Reduction of credits:
Internal and external examiners will grade both parts of the exam together (group and individual term paper).
Examination details: Term Paper: A - E / Ikke bestått