Gender After Genocide: How Violence Shapes Long-Term Political Representation

85 Pages Posted: 15 Mar 2021 Last revised: 14 Oct 2022

See all articles by Nikhar Gaikwad

Nikhar Gaikwad

Columbia University - Department of Political Science

Erin Lin

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Political Science

Noah Zucker

Princeton University

Date Written: August 1, 2020

Abstract

What are the legacies of violence on women’s political representation? We examine the long-term effects of a watershed conflict of the twentieth century: the Khmer Rouge genocide, during which 50–70% of Cambodia’s working-age men were killed. Using original data on mass killings and economic and political conditions in Cambodian communes, we find that genocide exposure is positively associated with women’s economic advancement and present-day indicators of women’s representation in local-level elected office. We conduct in-depth, ethnographic interviews with genocide survivors to explore the mechanisms by which violence spurred women into elected office. A crucial finding emerges: In areas that suffered the genocide’s worst killings, widows obtained economic autonomy, providing a template for the economic advancement of women in traditional households with surviving men. The shift in norms regarding the sexual division of labor and its transmission through intra-communal and intergenerational pathways allowed women to adopt larger public roles over time.

Keywords: Gender and Politics, Genocide, Historical Legacies, Multi-Methods Research

Suggested Citation

Gaikwad, Nikhar and Lin, Erin and Zucker, Noah, Gender After Genocide: How Violence Shapes Long-Term Political Representation (August 1, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3801980 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3801980

Nikhar Gaikwad (Contact Author)

Columbia University - Department of Political Science ( email )

7th Floor, International Affairs Bldg.
420 W. 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

Erin Lin

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Political Science ( email )

2001 Derby Hall
154 N Oval Mall
Columbus, OH 43210
United States

Noah Zucker

Princeton University ( email )

Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States

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