Protection as connection: feminist relational theory and protecting civilians from violence in South Sudan

Felicity Gray

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    The direct protection of civilians from the violence and harms of armed conflict is most often understood in fixed, identity-centred terms: of what protection is, where it is located, of who provides it, who receives it. Such analyses often conceal the relational nature of civilian protection: how it is co-created by actors in and through their relationships with one another and the protection architectures they operate within. In this article, I explore how a feminist relational approach helps to illuminate these underacknowledged dynamics of civilian protection. Using protection of civilians in the context of the civil war in South Sudan as an example, I highlight how relationships shape protection, and how a relational approach can illuminate a richer view of protection actors, action, and spaces. Drawing from the example of United Nations police mass cordon and search activities, I also demonstrate how relationships between peacekeepers and displaced communities are shaped by protection architectures. I argue that a relational approach can illuminate unjust structures, create important opportunities for new research, and assist in questioning and reorienting dominant peacekeeping strategies.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)152-170
    JournalJournal of Global Ethics
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2022

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