Elisabeth Olivius is an Associate Professor in political science, whose research focuses on gender and power in processes of peace and peacebuilding.
My research examines the gendered dynamics and relations of power of processes of peacebuilding and post-war politics. I am leading three research projects funded by the Swedish Research Council. The project “Between liberal norms and authoritarian governance: women’s organizations as peacebuilders in illiberal post-war states" is part of the Swedih Research Council's research program on civil society, and explores how women’s organizations in three post-war states in Asia are negotiating their position between international peacebuilding agendas, which position them as key partners, and authoritarian state governance which constrain their agency. As authoritarianism is the most common regime type in post-war societies, the knowledge generated have far-reaching implications for peacebuilding research, policy and practice, and generate insights into the changing conditions for civil society in a global political era where illiberalism is on the rise.
The project “The politics of international gender expertise in peacebuilding” starts from the observation that over the past decades, gender equality goals have been institutionalized as part of peacebuilding agendas and activities. This has created a demand for specialized knowledge to facilitate the implementation of gender mainstreaming strategies, and policy frameworks such as the UN Women, Peace and Security agenda. Knowledge about gender relations and gender equality policy has thereby been established as a specific area of expertise in peacebuilding practice, and gender experts have emerged as a new profession. This project examines the production of gender expertise in international organizations, as well as the politics of translating this knowledge into practical peacebuilding activities in Myanmar and Mindanao, the Philippines. These case studies are particularly interested in the tensions, opportunities and power dynamics that arise in the encounter between international expertise and local women’s activism as well as governing institutions.
The project “Feminists, Ethno-nationalists and Peace Activists? The Role of Diasporic Minority Women's Organizations in Burma's Conflict Transformation Process” examines the activism of diasporic minority women's organizations and its impact on conflict transformation and peacebuilding in Myanmar. Over time, the project has followed the dynamic interplay between the diasporic political space and changes in the domestic political landscape in Myanmar, first after the 2011 semi-democratic transition, and recently after the 2021 military coup. Thereby the project contributes to new knowledge about the understudied gendered dimensions of diaspora politics and political transitions.
Moreover, I participate in the research project “Varietiees of Peace – A Relational Approach”, and coordinates the international Varieties of Peace Research Network. I am the book reviews editor for International Feminist Journal of Politics, and a member of the steering group of SweDev, a Swedish development research network. I teach peace and conflict studies at the undergraduate level, and in the PhD program in political science.