Cosmopolitan militaries and dialogic peacekeeping: Danish and Swedish women soldiers in Afghanistan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Feminist security studies (FFS) scholarship advocates the analysis of women’s war experiences and narratives to understand conflict and military intervention. Here we add a non-great power focus to FFS debates on the gendered discourses of military interventionism. We zoom in on Danish and Swedish women soldiers’ reflections on their involvement in the ISAF operation in Afghanistan. Their stories are deconstructed against the backdrop of their states’ adoption of a cosmopolitan-minded ethic on military obligation. Both states employed women soldiers in dialogic peacekeeping in Afghanistan to establish links with local women and to gather intelligence, tasks that were less frequently afforded to male soldiers. However, feminist FSS scholarship locates military intelligence gathering within racial, gendered and imperialist power relations that assign victimhood to local women. This feminist critique is pertinent, but the gendered and racial logics governing international operations vary across national contexts. While such gender binaries were present in Danish and Swedish military practice in Afghanistan, our article shows that dialogical peacekeeping offered an alternative to stereotypical constructions of women as victims and men as protectors. Dialogical peacekeeping helped to disrupt such gendering processes, giving women soldiers an opportunity to rethink their gender identities while instilling dialogical relations with local women.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Gender Studies
  • Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)


  • cosmopolitanism, dialogic peacekeeping, Feminist security studies, narratives, non-great powers, women soldiers
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)172-187
JournalInternational Feminist Journal of Politics
Issue number2
Early online date2017 Oct 24
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Apr 3
Publication categoryResearch