Tuesday 28th January

Fulton, room 107, 1pm-2pm

Jessica Keady (University of Manchester)
Matthew Hurley (Oxford Brookes University) rescheduled for Tuesday 8th April


Dr Synne Dyvik (University of Sussex, School of Global Studies)

Jessica Keady – A Gendered Reading of Purity in the Dead Sea Scrolls: The Constructions of Masculine Ideologies in the War Scroll

The Dead Sea Scrolls preserve a large range of Jewish religious writings from the Second Temple period (between 530 BC to 70 AD). The Scrolls were found between 1946 and 1956 in Khirbet Qumran. The identity of the communities behind the Scrolls is still debated, but the majority of scholars attribute the manuscripts as belonging to the Jewish sect of the Essenes. There has been a scholarly view that the Essene communities were celibate, isolated and male, which has affected the ways in which the communities have been socially constructed in scholarship.

Since all the Scrolls have now been published, this view is beginning to change and the purity material on menstruation, childbirth, sexual relations and marriage has began to alter the celibate construction of the communities behind the Scrolls. This presentation will draw on my thesis, which is focused on creating a gendered reading of purity and impurity in the Dead Sea Scrolls, by using modern gendered methodologies, in particular from
Masculinity Studies to deconstruct the presentation of femininity and masculinity in the War Scroll (1QM). Masculine methodologies can provide a highly valuable contribution when applied to a reading of the War Scroll, which encompasses the deconstruction of specific kinds of gendering and a reconsideration of gender itself as a given source of power.

I will argue that in the same way as masculinity can be possessed and lost, purity can also be viewed as something which is dynamic, unstable and ever changing. In summary, this presentation will use an interdisciplinary gendered methodology, which will allow me to uncover what cultural and religious norms may have underpinned the roles and restrictions of men and women in their everyday lives and how the diverse purity issues that existed between the sexes are presented and constructed in the
War Scroll.

Matthew Hurley – Watermelons & Weddings: NATO, Strategic Femininities and the Gender Perspective

This paper analyses the construction and strategic deployment of particular femininities by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) as it seeks to integrate a ‘gender perspective’ into its operational planning in response to UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and the wider ‘Women, Peace and Security’ agenda. Taking a narrative analytical approach (Wibben, 2011) the paper focuses on the (re)telling of two stories of success, one surrounding the cultivation of watermelon in Sangin Province and the other, the preparation for a wedding. Both stories are presented in official NATO documentation as successful case studies in the use of the ‘gender perspective’; as well as being retold by NATO military personnel within the institutional setting of NATO HQ during semi-structured interviews. I argue that the (re)telling and use of these stories by the organisation call into being, institutionalise and then codify particular understandings of militarised femininity, embodied by the  female soldiers deployed to Afghanistan. Furthermore, these (essentialised) understandings of femininity, constructed within the hegemonic masculine context of an international security organisation, serve to severely restrict understandings of female agency whilst being used to advance NATO’s operational effectiveness. In short, the ‘gender perspective’ limits female agency whilst being simultaneously promoted as a way of advancing the role
of women in NATO missions.


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