Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Global Governance and Human Security

First Advisor

B. Jane L. Parpart

Second Advisor

Cynthia Enloe

Third Advisor

Amanda Chisholm


This research critically questioned NATO security force advising in Afghanistan by examining how NATO’s notions of security are gendered and hierarchical, how NATO advisors embody these notions, and what power hierarchies result due to NATO’s discourses and security narratives. This research contributes to the critical military studies and feminist security studies literature on military/security organizations by questioning security assumptions made about advising and how NATO’s use of this program promotes gendered and hierarchical notions of (in)security. Other research on advising typically lacks analysis from a feminist lens that engages with gendered power relations. Here, using NATO’s Afghanistan security advising program as a case study, a feminist poststructuralist framework is utilized to examine security narratives and gendered power relations within the 2016–2019 NATO advisor program. Feminist poststructuralism specifically examines gender as materializing through power relations, which is vital for toward understanding the propagation of security concepts within the security advising relationship. Participant interviews, advising observations, and feminist critical discourse analysis support this investigation into NATO’s construction of (in)security. Through guided theory, contradictory themes were discovered across the three sets of data, which simultaneously promoted gender and women’s empowerment and reinforced patriarchal power dynamics by hierarchizing between and within gender and “Othering” Afghan men. Recommendations are offered as a “critical friend” (Rech et al.) to support NATO in its gender programming and highlight the need for recognition of a counterpart’s voice in advising relationships.


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