Diversity in Dialectics: A Methodological Quest for En-gendering Security

  • Imtiaz Ahmed
  • Journal of Asian Security and International Affairs, August 2017, SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.1177/2347797017710572

Diversity in Dialectics: A Methodological Quest for En-gendering Security

What is it about?

En-gendering security is as much a political exercise as it is a methodological one. An earlier paper (Ahmed 1995) flagged the limits of positivism in understanding woman’s state of insecurity in a world informed and dictated by masculinity or what could be referred to as the purush jat. The critique was done by taking recourse to dialectics, of a kind that had its roots in the works of Hegel and Marx. However, after two decades, I see the limits of the effort, particularly when it comes to addressing the dialectic of gender relationship and the disempowered status of women in South Asia. This is not because Western dialectical method is at fault (which surely has a tendency of harbouring determinism) or because the utopias put forward by the Hegelians and the Marxists, although qualitatively different in nature, have foundered and transformed into living dystopias, but more because of a serious appreciation of the diversity in dialectics, including the contributions of the Chinese and Indian dialectics over the centuries. Put differently, approaching woman’s state of insecurity from the standpoint of yin-yang relationship and/or prasangika can make a far more meaningful contribution to the task of demystifying masculinity and ensuring women’s rights. En-gendering security in South Asia otherwise requires not only re-imagining dialectics in the light of its diversity but also making the methodological quest local, indeed, related to the lived experience of the South Asians.

Why is it important?

A fresh methodological approach to understand the relationship between gender and security.


Professor Imtiaz Ahmed
University of Dhaka

On the dialectical method, Western, Chinese and Indian!

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The following have contributed to this page: Professor Imtiaz Ahmed