Research and publications

My research is at the intersection of security gender, security studies and queer theory.  Here I include my published journal articlesbook chapters, review articles, and additional online publications

I also include a section about works in progress.

Journal articles


"Racial hierarchies of knowledge production in the Women, Peace and Security agenda" 

Critical Studies on Security, 2021

In this article, we address hierarchies of knowledge production that have emerged in the two decades of researching the global normative framework, the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda. We argue that through the constitution of Centres of Excellence (CoE), the well-meaning processes of producing WPS knowledge can reify prevailing global racial hierarchies. We find that these processes rather than achieving emancipatory feminist outcomes can instead serve to narrow the scope of inquiry, pushing marginalised peoples further to the margins. Read here. 

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"Compounding Risk for Sex Workers in the United States" 

NACLA Report on the Americas, 2018

The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) and Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) hold serious consequences for Latinx queer and trans sex workers, especially those who are undocumented or seeking asylum. These new laws exemplify how racist, sexist, and moralistic legislation uninformed by those most impacted misunderstands both sex work and human trafficking. Mobilizing for change, sex workers of color offer a way to rethink what safety in their communities looks like by centering solutions based on their own experiences.  Read here. 


"Queering Women, Peace & Security in Colombia" 

Critical Studies on Security, 2017

​This piece considers the importance of the inclusion of LGBT organizations in the Colombia peace accords and what this means for the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in future WPS initiatives. It was published as a part of the Interventions section about queer/ing in/securities. Read here. 


"Queering Women, Peace & Security"

International Affairs, 2016

Feminist security studies and emerging queer theory in international relations provide a framework to incorporate a gender perspective in WPS work that moves beyond a narrow, binary understanding of gender to begin to capture violence targeted at the LGBTQ population, particularly in efforts to address SGBV in conflict-related environments. The article explores how a queer security analysis reveals the part heteronormativity and cisprivilege play in sustaining the current gap in analysis of gendered violence. Read here. 

Book chapters 


"Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity or Expression (SOGIE) in Violent Conflict and Peacebuilding" (with Megan Daigle, Jamie Hagen, and Henri Myrttinen)

 Routledge Handbook of Feminist Peace Research

Tarja VäyrynenSwati Parashar, Élise Féron and Catia Cecilia Confortini (eds)., March 2021

Much gender analysis continues to rely on a binary understanding of gender, neglecting the diversity of sexual orientations and gender identities and expressions (SOGIE). Full understanding of the complexity of how gender norms matter in violent conflict requires moving beyond heterosexist and cisgender framing of gender. This chapter considers the heightened and layered vulnerabilities for gender and sexual minorities (GSM) living in war-related environments. A case study on the Colombian conflict explores the violence faced by those with diverse SOGIE as well as how queer communities support one another to survive conflict violence. The authors consider how post-conflict offers a moment to push back against heteropatriarchal and cisgender norms. They conclude with a look at international organisations currently working to respond to conflict-related violence against GSM with a focus on the work by OutRight Action International, Madre and the Organization for Women’s Freedom in Iraq. Read here.


"Global Racial Hierarchies & the Limits of Localization via National Action Plans" w/ Toni Haastrup in New Directions in Women, Peace and Security

Soumita Basu, Paul Kirby & Laura J. Shepherd (Eds.) , Bristol University Press, 2020

Recent explorations in International Relations (IR) have critiqued the explicit consideration of race within the discipline and in its practice despite its enduring presence as an ordering principle (Shillam, 2016). The starting point of these studies is that while “race and racism have been often side-lined to the margins of contemporary IR, such issues were in fact integrate to the birth of the discipline” (Anievas, Machanda and Shillam, 2015, p. 2). It is within this contemporary scholarship of race and racism that we locate our reflections about the practices of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda. This contribution reflects on how whiteness and white privilege are refracted in the narratives and practices WPS agenda through a focus on National Action Plans (NAPs). We consider who WPS is about and who it is for on the international stage. A central part of this investigation is interrogating whether NAPs are truly able to localize the international project of WPS or whether because of global racial hierarchies, they actually simply reinforce the status quo to then allow for the perpetuation of countries in a peaceful though militarized Global North to place countries in the insecure Global South in a position of always failing at WPS. We also examine the imagery used by different countries within their NAPs and its implications for WPS messaging by countries in the Global North. Read here.


"Extending acts of motherhood: Storytelling as resistance to stigma" 

Troubling Motherhood: Maternality in Global Politics

Lucy B. Hall, Anna L. Weissman, & Laura J. Shepherd (eds), Oxford University Press, p. 51-66, 2020


This chapter highlights the different ways mothers engage in storytelling to resist stigma, while also rejecting the idea that they are “bad” mothers. The prevailing story told about what makes a “good” mother relies on the construction of an ideal mother parenting within a specific vision of the nuclear family. Mothers who do not live up to this ideal construction of motherhood are punished through various forms of stigma such as sexual stigma and abortion stigma. This chapter considers the impact of stigma on two groups of women, lesbian mothers and mothers who have had abortions. Mothers from both communities who have faced stigma are finding ways to rewrite the script about how to mother without shame. Some of the forms of resistance these mothers have engaged in includes abortion speak outs, online storytelling through blogs and videos and storytelling through art. The chapter also explores how community-based initiatives informed by the principles of reproductive justice also make possible new narratives of maternity and new visions for a future for mothering without stigma. Read here.



Handbook on Gender and Violence

Laura J. Shepherd (ed), Oxfordshire, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing, p. 61-76, 2019


This chapter introduces the main scholarship pertaining to sexuality as it relates to gender, with a focus on how this intersection matters for better understanding violence targeting LGBTQ individuals. Specifically, the chapter examines how homophobia is used as a means of upholding heteronormativity on the institutional level. The chapter considers how upholding norms based on binary constructions of masculinity and femininity perpetuates forms of violence, especially for queer and trans individuals who are deemed to being failing to perform these aspects of their identity appropriately who are then punished through acts of violence.  Additionally the chapter reviews four key debates about sexuality: 1) the ongoing tension between sexual rights as a liberal politics versus a more radical conception of queer liberation that is not reliant on identity politics; 2) the inclusion of trans studies within sexuality studies; 3) the challenges of interpreting or working to protect sexualities in postcolonial contexts; and 4) how queer, trans and feminist interventions in global studies cause us to rework key tenets of how gender matters to understanding violence. Read here.


"Global LGBTQ politics and human rights" 

Interdisciplinary Approaches to Human Rights

Elora Chowdhury & Rajini Srikanth (eds) Oxfordshire, UK: Taylor and Francis/Routledge, 2018

This chapter addresses human rights debates about global LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) politics. Considering this topic may be new to some students, this section will begin with an overview of key terms including LGBTQ, queer, intersex, sexual orientation, and finally gender identity before then going into specific issues of LGBTQ human rights. To broadly frame this topic, attention is paid to the bridge between feminist and queer organizing for LGBTQ issues. Because this book is intended for students in American universities the section will include a brief review of which issues of LGBTQ politics have been prioritized in domestic politics including the Obergefell V. Hodges case for marriage equality as well as the fight for inclusion of LGBT individuals in the American military.  The chapter reviews mobilizing for LGBTQ issues through the lens of large global civil society organizations including Outright International and ILGA as compared to a number of small organizations in the global South. The role of human rights as contained in UN documents on the global scale verses human rights concerns as articulated by local organizations  is then compared. The chapter concludes with a look at the critical pushback on the human rights paradigm as a way to achieve security and equality for LGBTQ individuals due the colonial legacy of the institution as expressed by some transnational feminists. Read here.


"The Revolutionary Possibilities of Online Trans and Queer Communities"

Gender, Sex and Politics: In the Streets and Between the Sheets

(Routledge, 2015)


This book chapter reviews ways that online queer and trans communities provide a space to connect in new and exciting ways not previously available to most. The chapter highlights the lesbian, feminist website Autostraddle as well as queer sex and fashion blogs such as DapperQ, The Handsome Butch Tumblr and The Testshot Tumblr.

Review articles and Encyclopedia Entries


"LGBTI Perspectives in Peacebuilding" in The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Peace and Conflict Studies, living edition (September 2020)


Read here. 

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"Homophobic Violence in Armed Conflict and Political Transition", Hagen J.

In : Journal of Iberian and Latin American Research. 25:3, 374-376, March 2020



Read here. 


"Counting Male Victims, Recognizing Women Rapists and Revisiting Assumptions about Conflict-Related Sexual Violence"

In:  Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, 13:4, 524-530, July 2019

Read here.


"Feminism is Queer: The Intimate Connection Between Queer and Feminist Theory",

International Journal of Feminist Politics, Volume 19.4 (2017): pp. 549-550.


Read here. 

Additional online publications

Selected Works in Progress

Queering Women, Peace and Security, book project in progress (chapters under review)


My forthcoming book reflects on how WPS practitioners understand supporting lesbian, bisexual and transgender women as a part of WPS work, and also looks to LGBTQ organizations to help define next steps for how to best collaborate across often siloed networks. variation, and to motivate future research in this area.

"Violence Against Gender and Sexual Minorities During Civil Conflict" (with Meredith Loken), under review 


Research on armed conflict’s gender dynamics has expanded significantly in the past decade. Moving away from the singular conception of women as sexual violence victims, scholars broaden the theoretical and empirical scope of gender-based violence to include male victims, women perpetrators, and non-sexual harms. But research in this field and the international architecture established to prevent gender-based violence pay little attention to sexual orientation and gender identity. Where relevant scholarship and policy interventions exist, they are largely siloed from work on gender-based violence. We argue for the theoretical expansion of ‘gender-based violence’ as a conceptual, empirical, and analytic category informed by sexuality studies, concluding that this framework can contextualize and help explain targeted attacks against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people during conflict. We support this argument with novel, descriptive data on rebel violence, identifying at least 31 organizations that committed targeted abuses since 1980. We use these data to demonstrate that this type of violence is gender-based, to identify cross-conflict trends and variation, and to motivate future research in this area.


"LGBTQ issues in the classroom" with Jose Fernando Serrano Amaya and Samuel Ritholz, chapter for the Oxford Handbook of International Studies Pedagogy


Chapter will consider theoretical/ethical discussion of the topic,  an overview of what is happening globally in terms of teaching LGBTQA Issues and examples of how instructors/students are handling LGBTQA Issues in the classroom.


"Nevertheless, they persisted. Feminist activism and the politics of crisis in Northern Ireland"  (with Maria-Adriana Deiana and Danielle Roberts) part of special issue of Irish Political Studies

During political and economic crises gender equality concerns and the experiences of women and LGBT+ folks tend to be marginalised in favour of other political issues deemed of more urgency. At the same time, the logic of crisis works to obscure or accelerate ongoing processes that undermine the social, sexual, cultural and economic situations of diversely positioned women and LGBT+ individuals.


In Northern Ireland, we have seen these dynamics at play numerous times, from the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday agreement to the longstanding crisis of devolved political institutions and in the context of Brexit (Pierson 2016, Deiana 2016, Gilmartin, 2019, Galligan, 2019), as well as the challenges presented by current global pandemic. In spite of these dynamics, women’s groups, feminist and LGBT+ activists, as well as progressive politicians, have continued to organise collectively to keep concerns and claims about gender+ equality and social justice onto the political agenda and public debate.  


Mobilising feminist scholarship on the politics of crisis (Ahrens et al. 2018; Kantola and Lombardo 2017) and recent feminist analyses of Brexit (Dustin, Ferreira, and Millns 2019; Guerrina and Masselot 2018; Hozić and True 2017), this paper interrogates how feminist/LGBT+ grassroots activists in NI responded to ongoing challenges for gender equality, social justice and inclusion. Drawing upon in-depth interviews, the paper reflects on the politics of coalition-building and strategic feminist activism in response to the intersection between the breakdown of devolved institutions, the uncertainty over Brexit and the ongoing gendered challenges exacerbated by the Covid-19 emergency. By foregrounding the contextual complexities of Northern Ireland’s post-GFA politics, the paper contributes to critical feminist engagements with the politics of global contemporary crises, interrogating explicit and unanticipated effects.  

Queer Peace and Security Secrets, project affiliated with Secrecy, Power and Ignorance network (SPIN)

Lesbian feminist organizing has played a significant role in women’s peacebuilding work, including in anti-war and abolitionist organizing. Yet women’s lesbian and queer identities are continually silenced/erased in the history told about the women’s peacebuilding movement, and feminist strategies for resisting patriarchal violence. What can explain the silence about these lesbian and queer lives in the American and UK women’s peacebuilding movements?  How does this silencing perpetuate heteronormative practices in gender, peace and security work? This project considers how queer people, especially women, in peace and security work continue to remain invisible even in work to promote a gender perspective in peace and security spaces. Ultimately, this project seeks to understand whether this invisibility of queer lives is the result of strategic secrecy or silencing or of ignorance on behalf of academic, activist and policy actors. Part of this work is also articulating the complex ways people align themselves with LGBTQ identities and how this has shifted historically when working in international security spaces such as the United Nations.