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Abstract

Recent efforts to implement gender mainstreaming in the field of security sector reform have resulted in an international policy discourse on gender and security sector reform (GSSR). Critics have challenged GSSR for its focus on 'adding women' and its failure to be transformative. This article contests this assessment, demonstrating that GSSR is not only about 'adding women', but also, importantly, about 'gendering men differently' and has important albeit problematic transformative implications. Drawing on poststructuralist and postcolonial feminist theory, I propose a critical reading of GSSR policy discourse in order to analyse its built-in logics, tensions and implications. I argue that this discourse establishes a powerful 'grid of intelligibility' that draws on gendered and racialized dualisms to normalize certain forms of subjectivity while rendering invisible and marginalizing others, and contributing to reproduce certain forms of normativity and hierarchy. Revealing such processes of discursive in/exclusion and marginalized subjectivities can serve as a starting point to challenge and transform GSSR practice and identify sites of contestation.

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