New PhD Fellow: Kathrine Bjerg Bennike

As of 1st of January 2016 FREIA has a new PhD Fellow.

My name is Kathrine Bjerg Bennike, and I am 28 years old and I live in Aalborg, Denmark with my husband. I hold a Master’s degree in Development and International Relations and a Bachelor’s degree in Language and International Studies, both from Aalborg University. You might already have run across me, as I have been employed at CGS for over a year as scientific assistant. As of January 1st 2016 and the next 3 years, I will be enrolled as a PhD student at Aalborg University at The Faculty of Social Science, Department for Culture and Global Studies, where I will be part of the research group Freia. My supervisors are Associate Professor Pauline Stoltz and Associate Professor Stine Thidemann Faber.

The topic of my PhD project is centered on diversity and equality in the Danish Armed Forces; examining how military personal understand, relate to, and negotiate questions on gender and ethnicity, and which role(s) they believe these two categories play in their work. The project will utilize gender and ethnicity as the two primary markers for diversity and equality, which are current focus areas for the Danish Armed Forces. Moreover, by examining gender it is possible to analyze the visible and underlying masculinities and femininities within the organization. Focus will be on personal who carry out operational tasks in peacekeeping/peace-building operations. The project is based on the hypothesis that the incorporation of equality and diversity are context dependent for many practical aspects, which calls for differential policies. This will for many aspects require different approaches to diversity and equality depending on the contextual setting, for instance in assignments in relation to the UN or the Nordic collaboration. Particularly, UNSCR 1325 concerning women, peace and conflict will be a key primary source in the PhD project.

The aim of the PhD project is to increase our understanding on how military personal understand and respond to diversity and equality in a domestic and international setting. Contextual settings become important during international collaborations and assignments, where military personal with different cultural backgrounds and understandings of diversity and equality are present. Hence, the study will provide findings on how military personal in both a domestic and international setting respond to and understand gender and ethnicity, and also how they negotiate these two concepts among themselves and with other international troops. The PhD-project will provide a framework for implementation processes of conventions and regulations related to questions on diversity and equality, enforced by international conventions e.g. UNSCR 1325 and codes of conducts within international collaborations e.g. NATO, the European Union and the Nordic cooperation.

UNSCR 1325 has gained significant attention internationally and has shaped topics on international politics, gender and conflict, thereby having a great influence on military work and commitment to work on peace, security, and conflict. I will spend the first 12 months of my PhD studies in Boston where I will be part of Dr. Sandra McEvoy’s research group at Wheelock College. Dr. Sandra McEvoy is Director of the Program Political Science and Global Studies, and she is part of the international scientific community who work with gender, international relations, and conflict (including UNSCR 1325). Her knowledge and experience on the field will be valuable for the PhD project.    

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