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WARRIOR - Women and Religion in Resistance

WARRIOR - Women and religion in resistance

Project directed by (opens in a new window)Dr Stephanie Dornschneider-Elkink


Conflict studies show that women are important contributors to conflict resolution and that their empowerment is crucial to conflict resolution efforts. Are these findings applicable to Islamic groups? The literature typically considers women in these groups as passive victims, subordinated to their husbands and male leaders in the name of a radical religious ideology. However, gender studies show that women often advance their independent, and potentially peacebuilding agendas by applying, rather than opposing Islamic principles.

The project has four goals: 1- to show empirically whether women in Islamic contexts may contribute to conflict resolution, 2- to identify channels through which they may advance conflict resolution processes, 3- to show women empowerment in Islamic settings so far associated with female subordination, 4- to show the role of everyday Islamic beliefs in conflict resolution and empowerment processes.

The project constructs an original dataset of ethnographic interviews with women in both Islamic and non-Islamic groups. The interview analysis applies Axelrod’s cognitive mapping approach. Cognitive maps consist of beliefs, connections between beliefs, and decisions that visualize the reasoning processes underlying political behavior. The project utilizes novel computational methods and new tools from quantitative text analysis to systematically trace common reasoning processes, and identify a repertoire of cognitive processes underlying conflict- and empowerment-related behavior.

While responding to calls for incorporating ethnographic methods into political science, the project aligns with new studies of computational ethnography. Its findings advance the literature on conflict resolution, women, and political Islam, while identifying new channels for the development of policies supporting conflict resolution and women empowerment.