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Annika Björkdahl

Annika Björkdahl


Annika Björkdahl

Annika Björkdahl is Professor of Political Science and co-editor of the Palgrave Book Series Rethinking Peace and Conflict Studies with Oliver Richmond and Gezim Visoka.

Research Projects

Troubling Testimonies: Women’s Narratives of War

The project analyses the power of witnesses and testimonies in transitions from war to peace. We take an interest in the role of women who testify about violence in war. To testify can be a means of doing justice, of transforming norms, of healing, and of sharing the burden of trauma. Such testimonies can have strong emotive force, and where statistics of genocide and extreme violence fail to convey the true meaning of such atrocities, narratives have affective impact on how conflict and atrocities are understood. We analyse women’s public testimonies about four seminal conflicts in our time:

  • Rwanda in 1994,
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina (1992–1995),
  • Sri Lanka (1983–2009), and
  • ISIS war against the Yazidis in northern Iraq in 2014.

Through a critical reading and re-reading of testimonies from these conflicts, we identify common themes from the early cases of BiH and Rwanda that echo in the more recent testimonies of Yazidi and Sri Lankan women. With our research we shed new light on the effects of gendered violence, the ongoing gendered production of speech and silence in the aftermath of conflict, and the emotive force of story-telling. We show that collectively women’s testimonies are constitutive of the global formation of the normative Women, Peace and Security Agenda.