I am delighted to have been awarded with the South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership Postdoctoral Fellowship that will be carried out at SASS with the mentorship of Nichola Khan. The project “Social Policy in Conflict-Affected Contexts. A Feminist Approach to Violence and Peace in the Basque Country” will consolidate my PhD research building on my previous policy work. My trajectory that combines practitioner work on gender mainstreaming in policymaking and gender-based violence prevention with academic research on armed conflicts and post-conflict situations has urged me to develop my ability to influence social policy in peacebuilding contexts from a gender-sensitive approach.

My postgraduate research thus far has developed innovative anthropological perspectives on multiple dimensions of violence in so-called post-conflict settings, paying special attention to experiences of women during and after armed conflict. After conducting ethnographic research in Northern Ireland for my Master’s degree, my doctoral research engaged an in-depth analysis of the post-ceasefire process in the Basque Country. The Basque case is important as one of the last examples of nationalist armed conflict in Europe (1959-2011). The Basque conflict has been undergoing a unique historical and political moment of reconciliation without the signature of peace agreements, and analyses of this process are crucially important for understanding social dynamics in other contemporary post-conflict situations and power relationships involved in reconciliation processes. My research highlights the importance of taking a gender-sensitive approach for a complex analysis of violence and peace. Peace processes are described in my thesis as periods of opportunity to tackle inequalities in which the violence is rooted. They give room to everyday practices of peace that displace violence by placing vulnerability and care at the core of relationships.

Through the fellowship that I will carry out in the supportive academic environment of the University of Brighton, I will be able to strengthen my research, disseminate it through publications and develop its impact on policymaking. I will collaborate with a regional governmental institution in the improvement of their incipient programme on memory and coexistence that deals with the consequences of the Basque armed conflict. I will also continue relationships initiated during my PhD with civil society groups that work on memory and coexistence the Basque Country to which I will present the results of my research in order to enhance their contributions to the peacebuilding process. In addition, I will work on exchange between academic audiences and social policy practitioners through a symposium where practitioners and scholars working on gender and peacebuilding will meet to improve the effects of their work on social policy. Under the provisional name ‘Effecting Radical Change in Conflict-affected Contexts. Feminism, Peacebuilding and Social Policy’, the symposium will consist of parallel sessions, a roundtable and a keynote speaker and will take place at the University of Brighton at the end of March 2021. I am grateful to have been welcomed to the CSECP and looking forward to developing inspirational collaborations with its members!

Andrea Garcia Gonzalez