Women at War and its aftermath is a new podcast that explores stories of women who fight and mobilise for what they believe in. We discuss what it means to be an agent in war – or in peace. How might women’s activism and involvement in politics take many forms? We also offer glimpses into the research encounters through which these stories emerged – reflecting on power relations, negotiations, mistakes, feelings of frustration as well as joy. We ask, what role does the researcher play in generating stories and multiple readings of stories?
The podcast is hosted by Hanna Ketola and Swastika Kasaju. Hanna is a researcher based in the UK, originally from Finland, and now working at the University of Sheffield. Swastika works in international development and has recently moved to the UK from Nepal.
In the first series we meet the women of the Maoist People’s War in Nepal. Hanna conducted her PhD research in Nepal in 2013, and the stories she heard stayed with her. Tales of activism and revolutionary politics, women risking their lives to fight, and organising movements from the margins of power. The women whose stories we feature are often seen as merely beneficiaries of various international peacebuilding efforts rather than as political actors or activists. Due to inequalities not only of gender but also class, caste, ethnicity and region, these women’s stories are usually not heard in international policy circles or in the corridors of power – be it in Nepal or elsewhere. Yet, these are women contributed to the Maoist People’s Liberation Army as fighters, and women who are engaged in a collective struggle for justice in the aftermath of the war. We hope that centering their stories whilst highlighting the complexity of the research process can shine a new light on women at war.
The podcast is co-produced and co-edited with Lizzie Ellen, Communications Manager at King’s College London, and Ayesha Khan, Communications Manager at Imperial College London. The story excerpts are read by Ankeeta Manandhar, Divya Thapa Magar and Manita Shrestha.
Note on Methodology
In the podcast episodes we do not include any of the original audio recordings from the research interviews Hanna conducted for her PhD. Instead, the interview extracts have been transcribed and translated from the original audio recordings. They are read out by people who have a connection with Nepal and with these stories. The reason for this choice is two-fold. First, having someone else to read out the extracts – not the person originally speaking – means that the level of anonymity remains the same as when these extracts appear in a written form, for example in a journal article. Second, we think presenting the interviews this way has important value. It makes it more explicit that there is no claim to directly capture someone’s voice here, to communicate it as it is. Instead, there are several layers of interpretation going on, layers that we strongly believe are always there in some form.
Hanna’s PhD research from which the interview narratives featured in the podcast emerged was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Hanna’s Postdoctoral Fellowship that enabled the creation of the podcast was also funded by the ESRC (ES/S011188/1). The final editing process was made possible by Departmental Research Grant from War Studies, King’s College London and the cost of building this website was covered by a Departmental Research grant from University of Sheffield.