Handbook on Gender and War
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Handbook on Gender and War

Edited by Simona Sharoni, Julia Welland, Linda Steiner and Jennifer Pedersen

Gender and war are in many ways inextricably linked, and this path-breaking Handbook systematically examines the major issues surrounding this relationship. Each of its four sections covers a distinct phase of war: gender and opposition to war; gender and the conduct of war; gender and the impact of war; and gender and the aftermath of war. Original contributions from an international group of leading experts make use of a range of historical and contemporary examples to interrogate the multi-faceted connection between gender and war.
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Chapter 4: Cat food and clients: gendering the politics of protection in the Private Militarized Securitized Company

Paul Higate


Drawing on Judith Hicks Stiehm’s article ‘The protected, the protected, the defender’ and based on ethnographic field-research, this chapter considers the gendered and classed aspects of bodyguard/client interactions in a private security company in Kabul, Afghanistan. Foregrounding the ‘cat food run’ which refers to the request by one female client that her bodyguard drive her across the city to buy cat food for malnourished cats living on the compound where she was based, the chapter reveals some of the ways in which the narrative of risk and danger was negotiated between the two parties. This process of negotiation troubles the protector/protected binary where the former exercises power over the latter in a straightforward manner. Here, security expertise is usurped by the superior class position of the client such that the former military status of the bodyguard is treated with relative disdain to the annoyance of these alleged security experts. In summary, the chapter highlights how class and gender can confer authority on those whose safety is entrusted to others who, while embodying knowledge about risk and danger, are in the final analysis service providers in one particular element of the market for force.

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