Peaceful Alternatives: Women's Transnational Organizing In Post-Conflict Areas

by Norander, Stephanie N.

Abstract (Summary)
In this dissertation, I provide an in-depth qualitative study of the struggles and triumphs of organizing for peace at Kvinna till Kvinna (Woman to Woman), an overtly feminist women's international non-governmental organization (NGO). A fundamental lived problem motivates my research: how to translate feminist ideologies into the practices of building alliances with women across national, ethnic, cultural, and religious boundaries. In particular, I investigate how Kvinna till Kvinna, a Swedish organization, develops and maintains partnerships with women's organizations in the Balkan region. Through extensive analysis, I show how Kvinna till Kvinna is able to foster partnerships that are based principles of empowerment despite obvious power imbalances. Their unique approach to peacebuilding and reconstruction work involves a dialogic approach to partnerships, extensive networking activities, negotiating access to crucial resources, and openness to alternative conceptions of what it means to contribute to and sustain peaceful society. To situate the analysis of Kvinna till Kvinna, I first build a framework that addresses metatheoretical issues that cut across organizing for social change, global feminisms, and pragmatisms. Specifically, I show how a critical ethic of care can be used to pull together common threads that are woven into social change, poststructural and postcolonial feminisms, and pragmatist thinking. I then move to explaining how this study is situated within communication literature on feminist organizational communication and alternative organizing and argue that this research fills an important gap in the literature on transnational feminist organizing. The results of this study are organized into seven themes that include different facets of Kvinna till Kvinna's work including partnership relationships, networking, organizational structure, and specific ways that a feminist ideology enables creativity, care, and imagination to thrive. Also discussed throughout are contradictions inherent in feminist organizing and how they are negotiated through an emphasis on constant reflection about issues of power and positionality. I articulate these interpretations by weaving among participant voices, organizational discourses, and my own theoretical sensibilities. Finally, I discuss theoretical and practical implications of the results of my work with Kvinna till Kvinna. In doing so, I revisit some of the long-standing tensions surrounding feminist and bureaucratic forms of organizing to further the argument that bureaucratic structures can be appropriated in unique ways that serve feminist missions and goals. At the same time, demands from external stakeholders can be constraining, but need not be disabling. I also explain how my work opens up space for re-envisioning ethical frames for organizing and how reclaiming an ethic of care is a viable alternative for understanding organizing that is motivated by social change causes. Ultimately, I argue that Kvinna till Kvinna fosters feminist principles in both its ideologies and practices by providing space for women to collectively participate in change. This segues into the practical implications of this study that make the case taking seriously feminist organizations as models at both the policy and local grassroots levels.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Ohio University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:organizational communication post conflict feminism women s organizations nongovernmental organization balkans


Date of Publication:01/01/2008

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