Zoe Marks, Ph.D.

zoe_marks@hks.harvard.edu

Harvard University

Country: United States (Massachusetts)

Research Interests

Political Violence

African Politics

Conflict Processes & War

Gender and Politics

Development

Race, Ethnicity and Politics

Countries of Interest

Sierra Leone

Congo, Democratic Republic of the (Zaire)

Nigeria

United States

Publications:

Journal Articles:

(2014) Sexual Violence in Sierra Leone's civil war: virgination, rape, and marriage, African Affairs

Tags: African Politics, Conflict Processes & War, Political Violence

Rape and sexual violence loom large in the study of civil war in Africa. Sierra Leone has been one of the most prominent cases for establishing rape as a ‘weapon of war’, yet little is known about how sexual violence was understood by commanders or combatants within the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). Mainstream analyses of armed groups and civil war rarely engage with gender dynamics, despite their centrality to war making, power, and violence; and research that does focus on sexual violence tends to overlook the complex internal dynamics of the groups responsible. This article examines the internal gender dynamics of the RUF from the perspective of male and female members in seeking to understand the perpetration of sexual violence. It shows that both formal and informal laws and power structures existed to regulate gender relations and control sexual behaviour within the group. It identifies four categories of women – non-wives, unprotected wives, protected wives, and senior women – and shows that women's interests and experiences of sexual violence were not homogeneous, but were instead shaped by their status within the group. In this way, sexual violence, examined in social context, provides an entry point for understanding how power, protection, and access to resources are brokered in rebellion.

(2013) Sexual Violence Inside Rebellion: policies and perspectives of the Revolutionary United Front of Sierra Leone, Civil Wars

Tags: African Politics, Conflict Processes & War, Political Violence

Rape and sexual violence loom large in the study of civil war in Africa. Sierra Leone has been one of the most prominent cases for establishing rape as a ‘weapon of war’, yet little is known about how sexual violence was understood by commanders or combatants within the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). Mainstream analyses of armed groups and civil war rarely engage with gender dynamics, despite their centrality to war making, power, and violence; and research that does focus on sexual violence tends to overlook the complex internal dynamics of the groups responsible. This article examines the internal gender dynamics of the RUF from the perspective of male and female members in seeking to understand the perpetration of sexual violence. It shows that both formal and informal laws and power structures existed to regulate gender relations and control sexual behaviour within the group. It identifies four categories of women – non-wives, unprotected wives, protected wives, and senior women – and shows that women's interests and experiences of sexual violence were not homogeneous, but were instead shaped by their status within the group. In this way, sexual violence, examined in social context, provides an entry point for understanding how power, protection, and access to resources are brokered in rebellion.

Book Chapters:

(2017) Gender Dynamics in Rebel Groups, Palgrave Macmillan

Tags: Conflict Processes & War, Political Violence

Zoe Marks unpacks the black box of gender dynamics in rebel groups and insurgent organizations in contemporary armed conflict. Examining how roles, responsibilities, and social relations are distributed and negotiated between men and women in rebellion reveals how these organizations survive and function, and sharpens our understanding of the spectrum of combatant experiences in wartime. Marks examines cross-national comparative data on participation patterns in rebellion, before turning to the group level to explore gendered power structures and role allocation in armed conflict. The chapter concludes with micro-level analysis that explores variations in individual experiences of violence and vulnerability inside rebellion.