Katherine's Insight into Women in the Islamic State
Dr Katherine Brown is a lecturer in the Defence Studies Department at King's College, London.
She works closely with the British military at the Defence Academy and graduated in 2000 in Politics and International Relations including Middle East, British and American politics as well as critical and political theory. She took the opportunity to study Iraq in as many courses as she could! Combining her regional focus developed at Lancaster, she grew interested in gender analysis which has now become her primary theoretical lens.
She states 'without understanding and analysing how gender operates we do not fully understand phenomena. Gender, as Islamic State’s recruitment strategy clearly highlights, is not simply an ‘add on’ to global politics. Looking at the ways in which both Islamic State and UK counter-terrorism policies invoke gender reveals the power dynamics and inequalities present in both locations. Certain types of women are promoted through Islamic state - mothers, wives, sisters - who are pious, adventurous women. They claim that by fulfilling these ‘earthly’ domestic roles within their ‘pure’ Islamic state, women can achieve a higher purpose. This is the interaction of religion and politics and the personal with the political that ‘Daesh’ (Islamic State) uses to give the veneer of legitimacy and authority. It is not just violence that keeps them in power. Similarly we find stereotypes of women in British counter-terrorism policy: they are seen as mothers, wives and daughters who can ‘moderate their men’. Only since the rise of Islamic State has the UK seriously considered Muslim women as potentially violent'.
Her work now includes critiquing government policy and advising military and police forces about radicalisation and gender and she finds herself writing policy memos, she fondly remembers having to do a mock one on a Lancaster politics course.