Misogyny and Masculinity: Using Gender to Understand Extremism

47th Käte Hamburger Lecture

Tuesday, 31st May 2022 (18:00 - 19:30, CEST)

Webinar via Zoom – Access will be provided after registration for the event.

Concept Note

The rise of populism and the radical right alongside ongoing global recruitment by jihadist groups has seen academics and the media alike note parallels between the two. In particular, the problem of extremism is increasingly understood as a problem of gender, and gender relations. Aggressive misogyny is evident in the rise of the manosphere, the so-called incel movement and new far right groups. Misogyny was also central to the organisation of Jihadist groups, who mobilise around a strict gender binary and the separation of men and women.

Based on ‘close-up’ ethnographic research in a UK context, as well as study of transnational Jihadist groups, this presentation explores how and why understanding gender is central to understanding the behaviours, ideologies and alliances of activists in two extreme movements: far right actors, and Islamist groups. Through a gendered analysis, the presentation assesses the misogyny and masculinities that activists in these movements have in common. But it also problematizes assertions that the two movements are mirrored images, different expressions of the same problem. Instead, it emphasizes how thinking about gender and its expression in different groups can help explain the fragmentations and differences between them, as much as what they share.

Dr Elizabeth Pearson is a Lecturer in Criminology with the Conflict, Violence and Terrorism Research Centre at Royal Holloway. Her research interests are in gender, extremism and counter-extremism. 

Elizabeth is the lead author of the book Countering Violent Extremism: Making Gender Matter, co-authored with Emily Winterbotham of the Royal United Services Institute and Dr Katherine Brown. The book is based on research in 2015-6 looking at the gender dynamics of extremism and countering violent extremism, and in five countries (Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK). Elizabeth's ESRC-funded PhD research at King's College London focused on masculinities in Islamist and radical right movements in the UK. She is interested in extremism online and off, and in 2015 conducted research on Islamic State supporters on Twitter on a Fellowship with VOX-Pol, the European Union Network of Excellence for the study of extremism online. Elizabeth has also written on gender and the West African jihadist group Boko Haram, and worked with the European Union Technial Assistance to Nigeria's Evolving Security Challenges (EUTANS) in 2015. 

Elizabeth worked as a radio journalist, mainly for the BBC, for some fifteen years prior to academia.



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Welcome and Introductory Remarks
Patricia Rinck
Research Group Leader, Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research, University of Duisburg-Essen


46th Käte Hamburger Lecture
Misogyny and Masculinity: Using Gender to Understand Extremism

Dr Elizabeth Pearson
Lecturer in Criminology, Department of Law and Criminology, Royal Holloway, University of London

Dr Aleksandra Dier (@AleksandraDier)
Regional Advisor for Women, Peace and Security, Regional Office for the Arab States (ROAS), UN Women

Moderator:  Patricia Rinck

Q&A with the Audience

Concluding Remarks and End of the Lecture