Mass rape in War: Feminist Thought and British Press Representations of the Balkan Conflict 1991-1995

  • Penny Stanley

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis is concerned with the possible inter-relationships between mass rape in war, the representation of rape in the Balkan conflict in major British broadsheet newspapers, and feminist thought. The empirical focus of the thesis consists of a critical analysis of the journalists’' reports of the occurrence of mass rape in the Balkan conflict as published in The Guardian, The Times, The Observer and The Sunday Times. Part One contextualises the thesis by providing an extensive discussion of rape, the history of mass rape in war, and the historical build-up to the Balkan conflict. Part Two contains the bulk of the empirical research: this is a critical examination of press representations of incidents of mass rape in the Balkans 1991-1995. Part Three investigates in more detail the relationship between feminist thought and the press representations of rape in war as highlighted in Part Two. Moreover, it examines some feminist 'solutions' to mass rape in war: those ideas were prompted by press interest in the subject, and its subsequent influence on particular feminist scholars. There are four main conclusions from the thesis. First, it shows that there is a complex relationship between feminist thought and press representations. Second, it argues that the relationship has positive results for both feminist theorising (providing information and ideas) and in terms of raising awareness of previously 'silenced' *issues in the public domain. Third, it suggests that the media in general has played an important role in placing the issue of mass rape in war on the international political agenda. Finally, the thesis vindicates the claim in the Introduction that the academic discipline of International Relations should be more attentive to this violent phenomenon, which has been such a regular feature of the history of war, and considers it a legitimate area of study.
Date of Award2002
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorMarysia Zalewski (Supervisor) & Kenneth Booth (Supervisor)

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