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Be Free? The European Union's post-Arab Spring Women's Empowerment as Neoliberal Governmentality

Huelss, Hendrik (2017) Be Free? The European Union's post-Arab Spring Women's Empowerment as Neoliberal Governmentality. Journal of International Relations and Development, 22 (1). pp. 136-158. ISSN 1408-6980. E-ISSN 1581-1980. (doi:10.1057/s41268-017-0094-0)

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This article analyses post-Arab Spring EU initiatives to promote women's empowerment in the Southern Mediterranean region. Inspired by Foucauldian concepts of governmentality, it investigates empowerment as a technology of biopolitics that is central to the European neoliberal model of governance. In contrast to dominant images such as normative power Europe that present the EU as a norm-guided actor promoting political liberation, the article argues that the EU deploys a concept of functional freedom meant to facilitate its vision of economic development. As a consequence, the alleged empowerment of women based on the self-optimisation of individuals and the statistical control of the female population is a form of bio-power. In this regard, empowerment works as a governmental technology of power instead of offering a measure to foster fundamental structural change in Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) societies. The EU therefore fails in presenting and promoting an alternative normative political vision distinct from the incorporation of women into the hierarchy of the existing market society.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1057/s41268-017-0094-0
Uncontrolled keywords: European Union, governmentality, women, neoliberalism, Arab Spring, empowerment
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations > Global Europe Centre
Depositing User: Hendrik Huelss
Date Deposited: 02 Jan 2017 11:36 UTC
Last Modified: 19 Jul 2019 10:57 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Huelss, Hendrik:
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