The Conflict Research Society awarded Heidi Riley, PhD student in SPIRe, the Cedric Smith Prize for 2017 (Luke Abbs of University of Essex also won). Centering on peace and conflict research, the Cedric Smith Prize is awarded to the best research paper by a UK or ROI based PhD student.

The title of Heidi Riley’s winning article was “Male Collective Identity in the People’s Liberation Army of Nepal.” It examined how participation in insurgency shifts notions of masculinity within low-level male combatants. Through conducting in-depth, qualitative interviews with former members of the Nepal People’s Liberation Army (Maoist), the author found that the gender equal identity espoused by the Maoist leadership was influential in shifting notions of collective gender identity of male low-level cadre. The jury found this a very important, innovative piece that adds a so far neglected aspect to the study of gender in war. The author makes a strong case for the policy relevance of her findings by pointing out that we need to move beyond portraying former combatants primarily as a source of insecurity. Instead, former combatants – especially from rebel groups with progressive gender ideologies – can be important agents of gendered change in post-conflict societies.

Well done Heidi!