Master Class by Professor Elisabeth Jean Wood: Researching sexual and political violence

Professor Elisabeth Jean Wood

Event details


Date & time

Wednesday 06 May 2020


Seminar Rooms, China in the World (188)
Australian Centre on China in the World


Elisabeth Jean Wood


Nick Cheesman

This master class will be in two parts. In the morning, Professor Wood will lead discussion on the conceptualization and analysis of sexual violence during violent conflict. Questions we will address include, what do we mean by “sexual” and “political” violence? What do we mean by a “pattern” of violence on the part of an armed organization? How can we compare across different country cases? What lessons can we learn from the study of one type of sexual or political violence that can be useful for study of another? To what extent do gender norms and hierarchies inform political violence as well as sexual violence? What are the relevant norms and hierarchies – does socialization of combatants, whether formal or informal matter? Does the analysis of wartime violence contribute to our understanding of political violence during other times?

In the afternoon, discussion will continue with how and how not to research sexual and political violence in the field. How can we generate and analyze data on patterns of sexual and political violence? What sources are available? How can they be accessed and used? What special ethical considerations apply in studying and writing about sexual and political violence? How can we best navigate these? What are the risks that fieldwork entails? How can we mitigate these but still research effectively?

Participants will be expected to draw on and speak to their experiences in preparing for and, if relevant, conducting fieldwork on sexual and political violence, as well as on the theories and methods they are using to do so. PhD students who have not yet conducted research should be at the thesis review stage of their candidature, or after, and have a well-developed proposal on which to base their participation. Scholars from all the social sciences and humanities are welcome to apply. Members of the Australian National Centre for Latin American Studies and the ANU’s Gender Institute as well as its Interpretation, Method and Critique network are especially encouraged to do so.

Participation is expected for the entire day (both morning and afternoon sessions), and some readings will be required. Lunch with vegetarian options included and tea breaks will be provided for all participants.


Elisabeth Jean Wood, Franklin Muzzy Crosby Professor of the Human Environment and Professor of Political Science, International and Area Studies at Yale University, is the author of Forging Democracy from Below: Insurgent Transitions in South Africa and El Salvador and Insurgent Collective Action and Civil War in El Salvador, and co-editor of books on sex crimes and political representation. She is currently working on a comparative study of sexual violence during war, a subject on which she has published a number of recent articles, and a co-authored book on political violence in Colombia.

Professor Wood has done field research in Colombia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, El Salvador, Peru, and Israel/Palestine. At Yale she teaches courses on comparative politics, political violence, collective action, agrarian studies and qualitative research methods. She serves on the Editorial Boards of World Politics and the Contentious Politics series of the Cambridge University Press, and from 2020, American Political Science Review. She is also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


With support from the Asia-Pacific Innovation Program at the ANU the organizers are able to offer four AUD500 travel and accommodation grants for PhD students and two AUD1000 grants for ECRs coming to the ANU from interstate. ECRs will be expected to stay in Canberra for a two-day workshop on typologies and ideologies of political violence, following the class, on Thursday 7 and Friday 8 May. The additional grant money for ECRs is to cover accommodation and ancillary expenses for those days.

The travel grant is named in memory of Lee Ann Fujii, who helped secure these funds and who was going to lead the class in 2019, but who passed away beforehand. For more on Lee Ann and her lasting legacy, see the Remembering Lee Ann Fujii symposium in Qualitative and Multi Method Research (16.1):


For PhD students, simply send a 300-word statement (in the body of the email) describing your research and why you would benefit from participating in the class, attach a 2-pp CV, and send it to both of the following email addresses. If you are applying from interstate, please indicate if you want to be considered for the travel grant, and if so, whether or not you have any alternative sources of funding.

For ECRs, supplementary to the above requirements, applicants will also include in a separate attachment a title and 200-word abstract for a proposed paper to present and discuss at the two-day workshop. Before applying please write to the organizers to obtain additional information on the workshop.

Nick Cheesman, Miranda Forsyth,

Deadline for submissions is Monday, 16 March 2020. Applicants will be advised of the outcome within two weeks. Any questions can be directed to either of the email addresses above. We look forward to your application!

Funding for Professor Wood’s visit and the master class is provided by the ANU Asia-Pacific Innovation Program, ANU Gender Institute and ANCLAS.

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