Gendered forms of authority and solidarity in the management of ethno-religious conflicts

Christelle RIGUAL

n both Ambon in Indonesia and Jos in Nigeria, existing communal ethno-religious tensions quickly spiraled into uncontrolled violence, and people organized to counteract conflict escalation through the development of conflict management mechanisms. Many of these mechanisms draw on gender as a resource in various intersectional ways. Micro-analytical literature on conflict tends to remain gender blind, ignoring a potent social force in conflict dynamics, while feminist literature on conflict focuses either on norms, symbols, discourse, and representations, or on women's efforts for peace. This article thus seeks to address an existing gap in the literature by exploring the intersectional relationships between gender dynamics and conflict management at the local level in Ambon and Jos. Our analysis draws on more than 110 interviews and focus group discussions. Engaging in a paired comparison between the two cities, we identify inductively two intersectionally gendered logics of ethno-religious conflict management present in both settings: deployments of gendered authority (in women's practices of “checkmating” and men's efforts of rumor control) and of gendered cross-community solidarity (in interfaith markets, rituals, and dialogues). This article ultimately contributes to expanding, deepening, and challenging existing research on conflict, suggesting that adopting a feminist, constructivist micro-level lens allows for the excavation of important and often invisibilized gendered logics of conflict management.