Strategic silences and epistemic resistance: Agency of women ex-combatants in 'post-war' space

Keshab Giri*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Existing literature on the post-war agency of women combatants focuses on macro-level political and economic processes as measures of their agency in the post-war society. I try to present a more complicated and complete picture of women ex-combatants' experiences of post-war agency by including socio-cognitive process to understand their post-war experiences. After categorising the extant research into four categories - post-war as regression; structural forces shaping post-war regression; situated agency of women ex-combatants; and micro-politics of post-war - I introduce the concept of 'strategic silence'. This concept indicates the capacity of female ex-combatants to consciously stay silent and to highlight the collective gains and empowerment for women while sacrificing the self. Secondly, I introduce the concept of 'epistemic resistance' which captures their ability to resist dominant narratives of social transformation by the Maoists in Nepal. I focus specifically on narratives around marriage during the insurgency. I conducted 39 extensive interviews during my fieldwork in Nepal (2017-2018) involving female ex-combatants, their leaders (male and female) and experts. This chapter makes an important intervention in feminist security studies and feminist international relations through a specific focus on gender in post-war reconstruction and peacebuilding.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Emerald international handbook of feminist perspectives on women's acts of violence
EditorsStacy Banwel, Lynsey Black, Dawn K. Cecil, Yanyi K. Djamba, Sitawa R. Kimuna, Emma Milne, Lizzie Seal, Eric Y. Tenkorang
Place of PublicationBingley
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781803822556
ISBN (Print)9781803822563
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2023

Publication series

NameEmerald handbooks


  • Agency and empowerment
  • Gender and war
  • Maoist insurgency in Nepal
  • Peacebuilding
  • Post-war agency
  • Women combatants


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