“Pulling the Tail of the Cat”: An Exploration of Palestinian Peacebuilders' Conceptualisations of Men and Masculinities in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
To date, men as gendered beings have largely remained absent from the international literature on armed conflict and peacebuilding. In general, the literature omits men‘s gendered experiences as civilians, non-combatants and peacebuilders and instead, men remain confined by stereotypes of violence, soldiering and war-making. In this thesis, I aim to break these silences by producing a qualitative analysis of discourses of men and masculinities within semi-structured interviews conducted with fourteen Palestinian peacebuilders in the West Bank. This analysis explores the impacts of the ongoing occupation and armed conflict on non-combat related Palestinian masculinities, and further, how men and masculinities are thought to interact with local peacebuilding initiatives. Through the use of feminist critical discourse analysis, this study has uncovered a number of key themes relevant to gender and peacebuilding theory and practice. Firstly, it found that the ongoing conflict has resulted in a 'thwarting' of West Bank masculinities in which men are understood as finding it increasingly difficult to live up to social expectations of their traditional roles and identities. Secondly, this study found that men and masculinities have become somewhat estranged from civil society, informal peacebuilding schemes. Based on my findings, these initiatives seem to centre around feminised narratives that emphasise women's peacebuilding capacities, while masculinities and the peacebuilding roles of men are overlooked. Nevertheless, this thesis also presents the notion that men are actively involved in the nonviolent resistance movement within the West Bank, which opens up room for a novel, alternative understanding of 'masculinised' peacebuilding in Palestine. In sum, this study articulates the need to 'take masculinities seriously' in the pursuit of more inclusive and effective peacebuilding and post-conflict development practice.