El Salvador. 1980s. Thousands of Salvadoran women participate in the highly masculine act of guerrilla warfare, yet never question the patriarchal gender roles dominant in their home communities. Why? When does gender-bending activism create feminist identity changes, and when does it maintain—or even reinforce—the status quo? In answering this question, Viterna develops a theory of micro-level mobilization that allows scholars to explain variation across activists. She also demonstrates how radical groups use traditional gender discourses to soften their public image and increase their group’s appeal to bystanders, but at the cost of reinforcing inequitable gender norms and practices.
2013. Women in War: The Micro-processes of Mobilization in El Salvador. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
2014. "Radical or Righteous? Using Gender to Shape Public Perceptions of Political Violence." In: Dynamics of Political Violence: A Process-Oriented Perspective on Radicalization and the Escalation of Political Conflict (Bosi, Demetriou, and Malthaner editors). Surrey, UK: Ashgate Publishing, pp. 189-216.
2014. "Mujeres en la guerra: Quiénes ganan, quiénes pierden." El Faro Académico, 24 de febrero.
2014. "La historia de dos mujeres que participaron en la guerra salvadoreña." El Faro Académico, 3 de marzo.
2006. "Pulled, Pushed, and Persuaded: Explaining Women’s Mobilization into the Salvadoran Guerrilla Army." American Journal of Sociology, 112(1):1-45.
In Latin America a powerful pro-life movement has generated new laws that constitutionalize fetal personhood and criminalize all abortions, even those deemed medically necessary. Viterna’s next project examines the causes and consequences of this gendered social movement contestation. This new project extends Viterna’s earlier collaboration with Katy Fallon on gender, democracy, and formal politics into a new domain, where the ways in which gender legislation is encoded into state institutions has profound consequences for women’s lives and the governance of gender.
2014. Viterna with José Santos Guardado. "Independent Analysis of Systematic Gender Discrimination in the El Salvador Judicial Process against 17 Women Accused of the Aggravated Homicide of their Newborns" (White Paper). November 17.
2012. "The Left and "Life": The Politics of Abortion in El Salvador." Politics and Gender, 8(2):248-254.
2012. Viterna with Katy Fallon and Liam Swiss. “Resolving the Democracy Paradox: Democratization and Women’s Legislative Representation in Developing Nations, 1975-2009.” American Sociological Review, 77(3):380-408.
2008. Viterna with Katy Fallon. “Democratization, Women's Movements, and Gender-Equitable States: A Framework for Comparison.” American Sociological Review, 73(August):668-689.
2008. Viterna with Katy Fallon and Jason Beckfield. “How Development Matters: A Research Note on the Relationship between Development, Democracy and Women’s Political Representation.” International Journal of Comparative Sociology, 49(6):455-457.
Too often, the development literature portrays aid recipients as passive players, either targeted or ignored by the actions of humanitarian agencies. In contrast, Viterna argues that potential aid recipients are active agents in their own communities’ development. Analyzing how communities pursue their own development advances the field in several new directions. It increases the number and kind of aid actors within our academic line of sight. It improves our understanding of why some communities are more successful at tapping into humanitarian aid flows than others. It better measures the impacts of aid on anticipated outcomes, like educational attainment or household income. And it brings to light a number of critical yet typically unanticipated outcomes of development projects, like stark fluctuations in local-level inequalities, transformations in local-level collective mobilization processes, changing migration flows, or the restructuring of local-level cultural relationships. With support from Harvard’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Viterna and her colleagues are collecting data on this project in Turkey, Lebanon, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Mexico, and India.
2015. Viterna with Emily Clough and Killian Clarke. "Reclaiming the 'Third Sector' from 'Civil Society': A New Agenda for Development Studies." Sociology of Development, 1: 1 pp. 173-207.
2015. Viterna with Cassandra Robertson. "New Directions for the Sociology of Development." Annual Review of Sociology, 41:5, pp. 1-27.
Killian Clarke, Graduate Student in Political Science, Princeton University
Emily Clough, Graduate Student in Government, Harvard University
Charlotte Lloyd, Graduate Student in Sociology, Harvard University