CSGS Visiting Scholar: Maria Malmström

CSGS Visiting Scholar: fall 2011/spring 2012

Maria MalmströmMaria Malmström

Maria Malmström is a Swedish anthropologist and her areas of interest are the MENA region, gender, body, sexuality, politics, violence, and security. She received her PhD from the School of Global Studies, Social Anthropology, University of Gothenburg. Her dissertation examined how female gender identity is continually created and re-created in Egypt through a number of daily practices, of which female circumcision is central. The study explored how the subject is made through the interplay of global hegemonic structures of power and the most intimate sphere, which has been exposed in the international arena. She is today involved in the inter-disciplinary research project “Hamas between Sharia rule and Demo-Islam.” The study aims to investigate in what way Hamas will adopt to the new realities on the ground (together with Michael Schulz et al.). Additionally, she is a gender consultant (UNFPA and others), and member of several academic/policy networks, e.g. Think Tank for Arab Women, and she is Senior Lecturer at Högskolan West, Sweden.

Current research:

Bodies and Bombs: Productions of Violent Militarized Masculinities among Male Hamas Youths

Why and how young men choose to join violent terrorist/military organizations—often with the aim of dying in order to use their bodies as deadly weapons— is a question which continues to puzzle social scientists, the policy world, as well as societ(ies) at large. This enduring question, which is ultimately about humanity and the seduction of violence, has become particularly salient given the changing global security-development landscape. The character of contemporary danger, threat, uncertainty, and belonging; the prevalence of terrorism as a seemingly viable political response to injustice; and the (US led) global war on Terror which is being waged in the intimate lives of peoples in disparate sites all over the world, render re-asking this question in distinct and varied ways an imperative. However, despite a general consensus that understanding the call to violence is vital to mitigating its effects—there is surprisingly little research that explores the intimate and complex production of violent (male) subjects in militant organizations. This research project therefore explores this overarching question in relation to young male Hamas members and the appeal of becoming soldiers in the context of the Hamas in the Palestinian – Israel struggle. The research sets out to explore who these militant actors are and who they desire to become in the hopes of gaining a better understanding of the ways in which their subjectivities and agency are informed by, and animated through, their desire to inhabit a ‘violent’ subject position. Central to such a line of inquiry is an exploration into the ways in which these young men’s experiences of masculinities are shaped and challenged by political, religious, economic and social changes that impinge on their lives.