Obituary - Cynthia Cockburn, CSWG Honorary Professor, (1934-2019)
Members of the Centre for the Study of Women and Gender are greatly saddened by the passing of Cynthia Cockburn, CSWG Honorary Professor and Visiting Professor at the Dept of Sociology, City University. Cynthia is best known for her pioneering work in the field of gender and war studies, which analysed the gendered dimensions of violence and conflict and women’s contributions to ending it. She was a prolific writer, including a number of research monographs: The Space Between Us: Negotiating Gender and National Identities in Conflict (1999), based on research of women’s organisations working across ethno-national lines in Northern Ireland, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Israel/Palestine; The Line: Women, Partition and the Gender Order in Cyprus (2004); From Where We Stand: War, Women’s Activism and Feminist Analysis(2007); and Antimilitarism: The Political and Gender Dynamics of Peace Movements (2012), mainly featuring peace movements in South Korea, Japan, Spain, and the UK. Her 2010 article, ‘Gender Relations as Causal in Militarization and War’, published in the International Feminist Journal of Politics, argued that dominant masculinity norms and identities were central to the reproduction of violence and conflict, and is the journal’s most read article.
Her most recent book, Looking to London: Stories of War, Escape and Asylum (2017), tells the stories of women seeking refuge in London, and was launched at an event celebrating the life and work of Cynthia, held at SOAS Centre for Gender Studies, University of London, in autumn 2017. It was a testament to Cynthia’s life that those attending and speaking at the event not only included fellow academics and students but also many of the women who were the subject of Cynthia’s books as well as activists from the peace movement. Cynthia was an active member of the anti-militarist group Women in Black as well as the Women’s League for Peace and Freedom. She was also a member of the political choir, Raised Voices, and wrote the lyrics to several of their songs. Through her activism, research and her everyday interactions, Cynthia always sought to put her feminist politics and ethics into practice. Cynthia leaves an amazing legacy that will undoubtedly continue to inspire people. Our thoughts go out to her family and friends.
Written by Nicola Pratt (PAIS)