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About Cynthia Cockburn

Dr. Cynthia Cockburn is a feminist researcher and writer, honorary professor in Sociology at City University London, and at the Centre for the Study of Women and Gender, University of Warwick. She lives in London. Her new book is Looking to London, published this month by Pluto Press.

Articles by Cynthia Cockburn

This week’s front page editor


Francesc Badia i Dalmases is Editor and Director of democraciaAbierta.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

‘Take me to London’ – stories of war, escape and asylum

London’s incoming asylum-seekers get a mixed reception, ranging from “refugees welcome” to “go back to where you came from”.  A new book tells some poignant stories of arrival and re-homing.

World disarmament? Start by disarming masculinity

Massive world military spending is driven by the profit motive of the arms industry and politicians’ weaponized notion of ‘security’. But women peace activists hold militarized masculinity to account.

The pacifist dilemma: women peacemakers’ responses to Islamic State

Can non-violent strategies defeat the new fascism of Islamic State and its allies? Women peace makers’ hopes and doubts recall the rift in the peace movement when Nazism threatened Europe.

Wheels on the ground: women’s ‘peace train’ to The Hague

The women who have come to the WILPF conference in the Hague from Australia and Aotearoa- New Zealand, say that travelling with your feet on the ground, or at least with your wheels on the track, is the road to peace.

Labour, life and love: Marxist feminists join the dots

Last weekend two generations of international feminists met at a conference in Berlin designed to prompt fresh thinking on Marxist feminist theory and inspire the renewal of a socialist feminist movement.

Masculine violence: call of duty, or call for change?

The much-hyped launch of a new gun-shooting video game this month reveals the thread of gender linking socially-endorsed militarism to criminal sexual assault. Where are the social programmes that would address the reshaping of masculinity?

Executed: what were the principles for which Edith Cavell lived and died?

Nurse Edith Cavell was shot by a German firing squad in 1915. The words 'For King and Country' are inscribed on her monument in London, but so too are her own words, 'Patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone'. Cynthia Cockburn explores this contradiction.   

Women's power to stop war: Hubris or hope?

In the first of a series of articles marking the hundredth year of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Cynthia Cockburn explores the roots of the women's peace movement and its aim not just to outlaw war, but to root out its causes. 

Plotting for a woman-shaped peace: Syrian and Bosnian women confer

Bosnian women live with the malign consequences of a peace agreement engineered by internationals between male war leaders. Syrian peace negotiations are heading the same way. Recently Syrian women met with Bosnian counterparts to strategize for a peace that delivers on the interests of women and civil society.  

Sexual exploitation in street gangs: protecting girls or changing boys?

In its recent report on sexual exploitation in street gangs, the Office of the Children's Commissioner for England is eloquent on the need for better protection of girls. It lacks any policy recommendation for a conscious remodelling of young masculinity.

Sexual violence in Bosnia: how war lives on in everyday life

Rape has been recognized as a war crime in international and Bosnian law, but women survivors seldom receive the reparation they are owed. Meanwhile, persistent male violence makes daily life in Bosnia-Herzegovina a battleground for many women.

Marxism and feminism have a lot to tell each other: can they find the words?

Thirty years ago women were writing of 'the unhappy marriage of marxism and feminism'. Though the two schools of thought cohabit uneasily, the recent annual Historical Materialism conference in London showed that each has something to gain from listening to the other

Challenging patriarchy and other power relations

Feminists lift their sights to capitalism, racism and militarism. Cynthia Cockburn reports from the Feminism in London conference on devising whole-istic feminist strategies of resistance.

What now for the women's movement? Feminist conversations

Cynthia Cockburn reports on a lively day of discussion at the British Library at which women of the 1970s Second Wave Feminism encountered a young generation of feminist historians. Debating racism, reproductive rights, sexualities and much besides, the aim was to imagine: 'What now for the women's movement?'

"Beyond the Fragments": I’m a socialist feminist. Can I be a radical feminist too?

The authors of the re-launched Beyond the Fragments take a feminist approach to healing a divided left. They put women’s exploitation by capital firmly on the agenda. But where is the challenge to patriarchy?

The cost of masculine crime

Men are, by a huge margin, the sex responsible for violent, sexual and other serious crime. The economic cost of this ‘masculine excess’ in delinquency is staggering - to say nothing of its emotional toll. Why is the social shaping of masculinity not an urgent policy issue?

Le coût du crime masculin

Les hommes sont dans une très large mesure, le sexe responsable de crimes violents, sexuels et autres crimes sérieux. Le coût économique de cet « excès masculin » dans la délinquance est ahurissant ? sans parler du prix émotionnel. Pourquoi la structure sociale de la masculinité n’est-elle pas une question politique urgente ?

What kind of feminism does war provoke?

The to-ing and fro-ing about ‘women’s peaceful natures’ is no more than an excitable bubble of argument out of touch with facts on the ground. Antiwar feminism is a pretty holistic feminism that is forged in the crucible of war.

Land, loss and longing: women and equalities in the north of Israel Palestine

Expropriation of their land by the Israeli state is an ongoing injustice for its resident Palestinians. Cynthia Cockburn recalls the 'politics of land' in an alliance forged between Israeli Jewish and Israeli Palestinian women between 1983 and 2008.

Guns, war and the domestic battlefield

As guns proliferate in a worldwide market with few controls, many get diverted from state and rebel armies to petty criminals and 'the man in the street'. Sexual and domestic violence is becoming more deadly, reports Cynthia Cockburn

"Don’t talk to me about war. My life’s a battlefield."

When we’re looking for the links between war violence and male violence against women in peace time, we need to look for causality and influence, flowing in both directions, says Cynthia Cockburn.

Longing for ‘normality’: women’s experience of post-war Bosnia-Herzegovina

Returning to Bosnia-Herzegovina after 17 years, Cynthia Cockburn finds Bosnian women criticizing their country's nationalist political culture. Longing for civil 'normality', they hark back to the former Yugoslavia and look forward to membership of the European Union, despite the imperfections of the former and increasing divisiveness in the E.U.

Peace movements: violence reduction as common sense

If one thing holds the overall movement of peace movements together it is the goal of violence reduction. There’s a shared conviction that violence is a choice, that there exists, much more often than commonly supposed, a more violent and a less violent course of action

Who do they think they are? War rapists as people

War is social, and examining soldier identity and male bonding may give us insight into how the incidence of sexual violence in war might be reduced, says Cynthia Cockburn

‘N-A-T-O? What’s that stand for?’

How can we cheer NATO for promising equality for women in an institution we deplore? We are saying: ‘military security’ is an oxymoron. Women ascribe a totally different meaning to the word security

Making women's opposition visible to NATO

NATO's continued 'mission creep' demands a degree of militarization that masculinizes and deforms everyday life. The forthcoming NATO Summit in Lisbon will launch a new Strategic Concept. Cynthia Cockburn says we need to be alert

Getting to peace: what kind of movement?

Today’s antiwar movements could become wider and deeper and more united if they took the critique of gender properly to heart

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