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Staff photo Elisabeth Olivius

Elisabeth Olivius

Elisabeth Olivius is a lecturer in peace and conflict studies. Her research explores how gendered relations of power are produced and reshaped in conflict, displacement and peacebuilding. 

Works at

Associate professor at Department of Political Science
Samhällsvetarhuset, plan 5, Umeå universitet, B5 58 21 Umeå universitet, 901 87 Umeå

My research can be located at the intersection between peacebuilding and conflict management, and gender equality policy and practice. I am particularly interested in how gendered relations of power are produced and reshaped in peace processes and in humanitarian aid to refugees, as well as in how ideas about gender equality are constructed and applied in these fields.

Presently I am primarily working with the project "Feminists, Ethno-nationalists and Peace Activists? The Role of Diasporic Minority Women's Organizations in Burma's Conflict Transformation Process", funded by the Swedish Research Council 2016-2019. The growing body of research examining the different ways in which diasporas engage in conflicts and peacebuilding has remained overwhelmingly gender blind; very little is known about women's political activism in the diaspora, or about the gendered impacts of diaspora engagements in homeland conflicts and peace processes. Addressing this research gap, this project examines the activism of diasporic minority women's organizations and its impact on conflict transformation and peacebuilding in Myanmar. It approaches diaspora engagement in homeland conflicts as a gendered phenomenon, structured by gendered relations of power but also potentially contributing to reshape gender orders in the homeland. Further, in the context of ongoing changes, this projects will contribute with highly timely new knowledge about the gendered dynamics of political transition and conflict transformation in the country.

I am also leading a project within the research programme Varieties of Peace, funded by The Swedish Foundation for Social Sciences and Humanities 2017-2024. In my project, I focus on the case of Myanmar and explore the local Varieties of Peace that emerge in the shadow of ongoing armed conflict, as well as how they can be conceptualized and explained.

My doctoral thesis, which I defended in December 2014, examined how, and with what effects, gender equality norms are constructed, interpreted and applied in the global governance of refugees. The thesis was based on case studies of humanitarian aid to Burmese refugees in refugee camps in Bangladesh and Thailand, but also linked local aid practices to the dominant constructions of gender equality which can be found in global policy frameworks. The study contributed with new knowledge about what happens when feminist ideas are institutionalized in global governance by focusing on the global governance of refugees; a field that has thus far received little attention in the growing literature on feminism, gender and global governance. Drawing on a theoretical framework informed by postcolonial feminist theory and Foucauldian thought on power and governing enabled the thesis to capture how gender equality norms operate as governing tools, and situate the politics of gender equality in refugee camps in the context of global relations of power and marginalization.

I have published research on various other aspects of the politics of gender equality in humanitarian aid. I have, for example, examined an emerging shift towards focusing on men and masculinity in gender equality policy and practice, and the opportunities and conditions for meaningful political participation for refugees in camps.

Conflict, Security and Development
Blomqvist, Linnéa; Olivius, Elisabeth; Hedström, Jenny
Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding
Cardenas, Magda Lorena; Olivius, Elisabeth
International feminist journal of politics
Hedström, Jenny; Olivius, Elisabeth
Myanmar: Politics, Economy and Society, London & New York: Routledge 2021 : 186-203
Hedström, Jenny; Olivius, Elisabeth; Kay Soe, Valentina
Journal of Peacebuilding and Development
Olivius, Elisabeth; Hedström, Jenny
Journal of Peacebuilding and Development, Sage Publications 2021, Vol. 16, (1) : 3-8
Olivius, Elisabeth; Åkebo, Malin
European Journal of Development Research, Springer 2020, Vol. 32, (2) : 379-403
Hedström, Jenny; Olivius, Elisabeth
Young women and leadership, Abingdon & New York: Routledge 2020 : 45-63
Olivius, Elisabeth; Hedström, Jenny
Indonesian Quarterly, Centre for Strategic and International Studies 2020, Vol. 48, (1) : 7-12
Olivius, Elisabeth; Strandh, Veronica
Umeå Working Papers in Peace and Conflict Studies, 12
Jarstad, Anna; Eklund, Niklas; Johansson, Patrik; et al.
Asian Ethnicity, Routledge 2019, Vol. 20, (2) : 148-167
Olivius, Elisabeth
Citizenship Studies, Routledge 2019, Vol. 23, (8) : 761-779
Olivius, Elisabeth
Women's Studies: International Forum, Elsevier 2019, Vol. 76
Olivius, Elisabeth; Hedström, Jenny
European Journal of Politics and Gender, Vol. 2, (1) : 75-92
Olivius, Elisabeth; Rönnblom, Malin
Political participation in Asia: defining and deploying political space, London: Routledge 2018 : 169-187
Olivius, Elisabeth
Umeå Working Papers in Peace and Conflict Studies, 9
Jarstad, Anna; Åkebo, Malin; Johansson, Patrik; et al.
The international migration review, John Wiley & Sons 2017, Vol. 51, (3) : e47-e49
Olivius, Elisabeth
Critical Asian studies (Print), Vol. 43, (3) : 289-307
Olivius, Elisabeth
Gender, violence, refugees, Oxford: Berghahn Books 2017 : 58-77
Olivius, Elisabeth
Encyclopedia of women & Islamic cultures: supplement XVI
Olivius, Elisabeth
Tidsskrift for kjønnsforskning, Oslo: Universitetsforlaget 2017, Vol. 41, (1) : 73-94
Olivius, Elisabeth; Rönnblom, Malin
Development Dissertation Briefs, 2016:5
Olivius, Elisabeth
International feminist journal of politics, Routledge 2016, Vol. 18, (2) : 270-290
Olivius, Elisabeth
Women's Studies: International Forum, Vol. 56 : 56-65
Olivius, Elisabeth
Umeå Working Papers in Peace and Conflict Studies, 8
Jarstad, Anna; Olivius, Elisabeth; Åkebo, Malin; et al.
The Journal of Refugee Studies, Vol. 27, (1) : 42-61
Olivius, Elisabeth
Refugee Survey Quarterly, Vol. 33, (3) : 93-117
Olivius, Elisabeth
Statsvetenskapliga institutionens skriftserie, 2014:3
Olivius, Elisabeth
St. Antony's International Review (STAIR), Vol. 9, (1) : 53-69
Olivius, Elisabeth
Building Peace, Creating Conflict?: Conflictual Dimensions of Local and International Peacebuilding, Lund: Nordic Academic Press 2011 : 149-168
Olivius, Elisabeth

Research groups

Head of research
Peace and Conflict Studies

Research projects

1 January 2020 until 31 December 2022
1 January 2017 until 31 December 2019