Fredagskollokvium: What do service, sex and (private) security have to do with peacekeeping?
Kathleen M. Jennings, Fafo Institute for Labour and Social Research
In this presentation, I will examine how peacekeepers - as individuals - and peacekeeping - as a complex of institutions, policy, and practice - interact with, and inevitably shape, the societies in which they operate. I will first discuss three types of work characteristic to the peacekeeping economies (the formal and informal economies spawned by peacekeeping operations) in Liberia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo - namely domestic service, sex work, and private security. The UN's institutional responses to these sectors demonstrates the persistence of 'traditional' gendered ideologies in peacekeeping, in which the 'private', feminized sphere of the home - encompassing peacekeepers' domestic and sexual arrangements - is marginalized, while the masculinized realm of security is prioritized and closely regulated. Furthermore, factoring in peacekeepers' individual responses to service, sex, and security reveals a counter-narrative of the peacekeeper-as-vulnerable. This counter-narrative upsets the subject position of both the peacekeeper and 'the local' in an unexpected manner, ultimately undermining the notion of the (masculine) UN protector, but also explanatory of the risk-averse, bunkered way in which modern peacekeeping is done.