My research adopts an interdisciplinary approach to studying how gender relations shape the everyday of international politics. I examine how gender is enmeshed in fundamental international practices like diplomacy and mediation, and how international institutions have responded to gender equality reforms.

The Women, Peace and Security Agenda in United Nations Mediation

My book project examines the United Nations’ struggles to implement gender equality reforms in its conflict mediation work. I use interpretive methods to analyse evidence drawn from thirty-seven interviews with UN mediation practitioners in New York and Nairobi, UN guidance documentation and grey literature, and participant observation of internal UN trainings on gender and mediation. I find that contestation over UN mediation – whether it is a diplomatic art of managing relationships or a technical science of conflict management – affects the implementation of gender reforms in different ways. Narratives and practices associated with the view of mediation as an art exclude women by creating informal, male-only spaces. Meanwhile, technical approaches to mediation depoliticise the role of gender relations in conflict, reducing the perceived importance of including gender issues in negotiations.

Papers and publications:

  • ‘Caught between Art and Science: the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in United Nations Mediation Narratives’ (forthcoming at International Feminist Journal of Politics)
  • ‘Constructing Best Practices in UN Mediation: Narratives of Women’s Participation in Yemen and Syria’

Gendering the Practice Turn in Diplomacy

My second project, Gendering the Practice Turn in Diplomacy, examines gender in diplomatic practices. Diplomatic studies has recently turned toward examining the everyday practice of diplomacy. At the same time, research on gender and diplomacy has emerged, illustrating how diplomacy often marginalises women. However, these areas of research remain largely distinct. This project brings them together and proposes an integrated research agenda on gender and diplomatic practices. Such an agenda can help us understand the persistence of male overrepresentation in diplomacy, or the role the private sphere plays in mediating interstate relations.

I plan to develop the project further by applying feminist practice theory to studying historical changes in international diplomacy. In particular, I plan to seek further funding to carry out qualitative research on the impact of the shift from personal to public authority on gendered international practices like marriage diplomacy.

Papers and publications:

  • ‘Gendering the Practice Turn in Diplomacy’ (revise and resubmit)
  • ‘Who Gets to be a Virtuoso? Gender and Diplomatic Skill’
  • Standfield, C. (2019). ‘Feminist Perspectives on Diplomacy – A Review’. International Feminist Journal of Politics (21)1: 152-154.

Other Working Papers

  • ‘Gender Equality Provisions and the Durability of Civil War Settlements’
  • ‘Mediators, Mandates, and the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda’ (with Laurie Nathan)