Civilian Masculinities and Conflict
: An Examination of Northern Ireland and the Occupied Palestinian Territories

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

This thesis examines how protracted conflict and military occupation impact upon the masculinities of civilian men. While there has been much theorising about masculinities and their enduring associations with warfare and collective violence (Ni Aoláin et al. 2011), there has been comparatively little research conducted on the identities of men who remain civilian during such periods (Foster 2011). Moreover, their experiences and vulnerabilities have often been overlooked within the media and within humanitarian policy and practice (Allsopp, 2015; Hutchings 2011). In order, therefore, to help address such gaps, this study explores the experiences and identities of civilian men from two seemingly quite disparate sites of conflict, namely, Northern Ireland and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Within Northern Ireland, interviews were conducted with research participants who had been active within boxing either during or after the conflict. Their conflict narratives are thus woven into their personal histories as boxers and/or as boxing coaches. The data which emerged reveals how young men often found salvation within the sport, through the acquisition of masculine identities which, although civilian in character, were nevertheless highly culturally valued in working-class communities during the period.
By contrast, within the Occupied Territories, interviews and focus groups exploring the effects of ongoing conflict and military occupation were carried out primarily with Palestinian university students. Their narratives reveal how civilian men in this context utilise their agency in order to minimise their vulnerabilities and affirm their masculinities in ways which are not associated with the use of violence, particularly through the utilisation of various forms of knowledge.
Ultimately, within both of these settings, the violence to which the participants had been exposed had a significant impact upon how they sought to construct and affirm their male identities. This examination thus enables a more holistic understanding of the continuum of men’s conflict-related experiences, and for the theorisation of civilian masculinities beyond the confines of a singular site of conflict.
Date of AwardJul 2020
Original languageEnglish
SponsorsDepartment for Employment and Learning, Northern Ireland.
SupervisorBrandon Hamber (Supervisor)

Keywords

  • Gender
  • Boxing
  • Peacebuilding
  • Checkpoints
  • Military Occupation

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