In this seminar, I take a feminist discourse-theoretical approach to the phenomenon that has been termed ‘norm diffusion’ in order to explore, first, how norms can be understood as themselves the product of discursive contestation; second, in what ways norm diffusion can be recast as the reproduction/resistance of dominant or hegemonic discourse in particular institutional settings; and, third, how and in what ways discourse theory can render visible the subject-positions that are created through ‘norm diffusion’ when it is analysed as discursive reproduction. Following Foucault, I articulate an understanding of reproduction that necessarily entails resistance, but I argue that there are gendered institutional logics specific to each setting or context that affect the ‘stickiness’ or resonance of discourse, the dynamics of its reproduction/resistance, and the constitution of subjects within that setting or context. This seminar explores the institutional context of the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations, in particular its engagement with women’s participation in peace and security governance, to illustrate the theoretical argument presented.
Dr Laura J. Shepherd is Associate Professor of International Relations in the School of Social Sciences, UNSW Sydney (Australia), and a Visiting Senior Fellow at the LSE Centre for Women, Peace and Security in London (UK). Laura’s primary research focuses on the United Nations Security Council’s Women, Peace and Security agenda. She has written extensively on the formulation of UNSCR1325 and subsequent Women, Peace and Security resolutions, and her research engages the motifs of violence prevention, participation and protection that characterise debates about women, peace and security in global politics. Laura has recently concluded a research project investigating logics of gender and space in UN peacebuilding discourse and is just beginning a research project examining advocacy around, and implementation of, the Women, Peace and Security agenda at global, national, and local levels. Both projects received funding from the Australian Research Council. In addition to scholarly contributions, Laura blogs semi-regularly for The Disorder of Things and tweets from @drljshepherd.