Maria Martin de Almagro, Ph.D.

University of Cambridge

Country: Belgium

About Me:

I am a Marie Curie individual fellow at POLIS, University of Cambridge and Assistant Professor in International Affairs at Vesalius College, VUB, Brussels. I also blog for the Duck of Minerva. My primary research focuses on the United Nations Security Council’s Women, Peace and Security agenda.  I have written extensively on the advocacy around, and implementation of, the Women, Peace and Security agenda at global, national, and local levels in post-conflict contexts. I am currently starting a research project on the linkages between the Women, Peace and Security Agenda and transitional justice mechanisms in Colombia, Liberia, Sierra Leone.  I am particularly interested in poststructural and postcolonial accounts of gender and security and in feminist and interpretive methodologies.I hold a PhD in Social and Political Sciences from the Université libre de Bruxelles (Belgium) and a PhD in Political Theory from LUISS Guido Carli of Rome (Italy). I also hold an MA in European Studies from the College of Europe and an MPP in Public Policy from the University of Michigan, thanks to a Fulbright scholarship.My research focuses on gender politics, international security governance and the micro-dynamics of war-to-peace transitions – peacebuilding practices and transnational justice mechanisms – through a critical security lenses. Much of my work investigates concepts and performances of authority, legitimacy and power through these theoretical lenses. I have written many articles on these topics for various journals and contributed to several books. I am regularly invited to lecture in various Universities  and to speak in various seminars and conferences in Europe and around the world. I have previously worked for the EU delegation before the United Nations, several think tanks and international NGOs.

Research Interests

African Politics


Foreign Aid

Gender and Politics

Conflict Processes & War



Specific Areas of Interest

Feminist Policy Studies

Development Africa

International Cooperation

Post-Conflict Peacebuilding

Civil Society Africa

International Democracy Promotion

Countries of Interest



Congo, Democratic Republic of the (Zaire)


Sierra Leone

My Research:

I am currently working on a project titled "GenderJust": The political economy of Truth and Reconciliation Commissions. It looks at the question of why international measures aiming at including women and their voices in transitional justice (TJ) mechanisms are so contested. This research aims at analysing the limitations of Gender Justice (GJ) initiatives in TRCs and resistances to them. My hypothesis is that these limitations can be explained by a double dynamics: a) GJ in TRCs is understood very narrowly, with a focus on measures to protect civil and political rights, forgetting socio-economic dimensions of justice, such as access to resources, compensations, jobs; and b) these norms are rarely reinterpreted and applied in new TRCs through the integration of women’s propositions and lessons learnt from previous TRCs. I challenge existing literature on transnational norm diffusion which falls into the trap of presenting two idealized norm-generating communities (i.e. offical TRCs and women’s advocacy groups) by offering a multidirectional approach that reflects on the diversity of views on both sides drawing on critical peace studies and a feminist theorisation of TJ. This approach also takes seriously the need for an intersectional analysis that will, for example, look at the composition of women’s advocacy groups (which women are represented here?). My aim is twofold: to problematize how those who elaborate global norms in the West and those who implement them on the ground commonly think about gender and justice and to extend our understanding of women’s rights beyond laws and policies to include the ways in which women publicly subvert and resignify gender norms in public spaces. By analysing the cases of Colombia, Liberia, Sierra Leone and South Africa, the research proposes to look into taken for granted and preconceived notions of gender roles and notions of justice.My PhD research project explored gender security discourse in the campaign for the implementation of the UN Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Burundi and Liberia, highlighting how the particular shape of gender security is based on how the past, present and future of post-conflict is understood. I examine the factors that determine the impact of the transnationalisation of local women advocacy campaigns in post-conflict Burundi and Liberia and the evolution of international norms on gender security and gender mainstreaming.I obtained the Prize to the Best PhD Dissertation in Political Science conducted in a Belgium francophone university.Finally, I have extensive experience doing field research in conflict-affected countries, including field research experience in Burundi, Liberia, DRC and South Africa. I am interested in the power of inductive research and grounded theory methodologies for bringing to the fore the world vision of the research subjects. Feminism and post-structuralism have opened the possibility of including marginalised voices in academic analysis of the world. However, there is a need to avoid a self-appropriation of the voices of the “other”.I am interested in analysing how the researcher’s discomfort is valuable data in itself which allowed me to recognize my way through the planning and conducting of my research while trying to avoid patterns of domination and abuse of my positionality as a researcher.


Journal Articles:

(2017) Producing Participants: Gender, Race, Class and Women, Peace and Security, Global Society

Tags: Peacekeeping, Gender and Politics, African Politics

Recent efforts to implement the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda and the creation of National Action Plans (NAPs) in post-conflict countries have resulted in a set of international policy discourses and practices on gender, peace and security. Critics have challenged the WPS agenda for its focus on “adding women and stir” and its failure to be transformative. This article contributes to this debate by showing that the implementation of the WPS agenda is not only about adding women, but also about gendering in racialised, sexualised and classed ways. Drawing on poststructuralist and postcolonial feminist theory and on extensive fieldwork in post-conflict contexts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Burundi and Liberia, the article examines the subject position of the woman participant. I demonstrate how NAPs normalise certain subject positions in the Global South while rendering invisible and troubling others, contributing to (re)producing certain forms of normativity and hierarchy through a powerful set of policy practices. Deconstructing such processes of discursive inclusion and exclusion of troubled representations is essential as it allows for the identification of sites of contestation and offers a better understanding of the everyday needs and experiences of those the WPS agenda regulates.

Media Appearances:

Radio Appearances:

(2016) Deutsche Welle

L’élection de Donald Trump « dérange les équilibres » transatlantiques. Voici comment le président de la Commission européenne a réagi au choix du futur président américain. Mais qu'est-ce qui fait peur aux Européens?

Blog Posts:

(2018) Duck of Minerva

2017 was not a great year for international politics. The sentence I heard the most during conferences and other academic gatherings was that “the global order is in crisis.” Granted. It all started in 2016 with the victory of Trump, Brexit and the No to the Peace Agreement in Colombia. Nationalist ideologies have nothing but grown in 2017, when the victories of Marine Le Pen in France and of Geert Wilders in the Netherlands all of a sudden seemed plausible. Luckily, they did not materialise. We also had auto-proclaimed nations that demanded independence, such as Catalonia or Kurdistan. To top it all, the far right did win elections in Hungary, Austria and the Czech Republic. This nationalist move is having consequences across the world. In the Libyan costs migrants are being sold as slaves by smugglers or are locked up in hangars with no access to the most basic needs, after the European Union’s enactment of its policy of helping Libyan authorities intercept people trying to cross the Mediterranean and return them to prison.