Catia Cecilia Confortini

Professor of Peace and Justice Studies

Scholar and activist around issues of peace and gender.

I am a Feminist International Relations scholar-activist. My scholarship and training are interdisciplinary and broadly inscribed in the humanistic social sciences, with graduate degrees in International Peace Studies (MA) and International Relations (PhD). My research pays attention to the intersection between theory production and political practice, in particular women’s and feminist activism and advocacy around peace and social justice issues. I draw from a vast tradition of feminist research that takes activists seriously as theorists. This has allowed me to rethink and reshape the subjects, methodologies and foundational questions of the fields of Peace Studies and International Relations (IR).

I write and publish on the history of feminist international thought and feminist organizing, particularly about the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). This is the main subject of my book entitled Intelligent Compassion: Feminist Critical Methodology in the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (New York: Oxford UP, 2012) as well as numerous journal articles and book chapters.

Second, my individual historical research and the collaborations developed through the Feminist Peace Research Network have led me to contemporary forms of feminist peace thinking and action, including feminist engagements with the UN Women, Peace, and Security Agenda and feminist peace theories. Besides several co authored peer reviewed articles and book chapters, the primary result of this engagement has been the co-edited (with Tarja Väyrynen, Swati Parashar, and Élise Féron) Handbook of Feminist Peace Research (New York: Routledge, 2021).

More recently, I have expanded my interests toward the exploration of intersections between feminist peace research and global health. This resulted first in a 2015 article co-authored with one of my Wellesley students and published in Health, Policy and Planning. I have also co-edited with Tiina Vaittinent a volume entitled Gender, Global Health and Violence: Feminist Perspectives on Peace and Disease (London: Rowman and Littlefield International, 2020).

Both edited volumes were completed thanks to the support of the Fulbright Finland Foundation, which enabled me to spend a sabbatical semester at the Tampere Peace Research Institute (TAPRI), Tampere University, Finland between July 2019 and January 2020.

Besides my academic work, I have been involved in peace and justice activism and advocacy at the local and international levels. In the past, I have been: a counselor/advocate for a domestic violence shelter in Long Beach, California; an intern with the Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de las Casas in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico, where I ran women’s human rights workshops and helped write and translate the Centro’s reports; an educator and fundraiser for international peace organizations; a community organizer and political advocate for California legislative initiatives, such as the reform of the California Three Strikes Law, a death penalty moratorium, and opposition to a California constitutional amendment precluding marriage rights to same sex couples. In the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), I served as US Representative to the International Board and member of the US Section from 2011 to 2014, and as International Vice President from 2015 to 2018. I am currently the convener of WILPF’s Standing Personnel Committee and President of the Board of WILPF UNO, Inc.

Education

  • B.S., Università degli Studi di Firenze
  • M.A., University of Notre Dame
  • Ph.D., University of Southern California

Current and upcoming courses

  • Truth Commissions (TCs) have been a mechanism to uncover, document, and recognize human rights violations and to honor victims at moments of transition from dictatorships to democracies, and from wars to post-war contexts. TCs vary in their mandates, composition, and tasks, and have mixed records of success, despite the frequently high expectations. They often stand as acts of reparation, catalysts of larger processes of peacebuilding and dignification of victims. In this course, you will join a group of Notre Dame graduate students to study together the conceptual foundations of TCs and learn from different case studies. We will investigate the background and rationale provided for their creation, their mandate and scope, composition and structure, and analyze their work and post-report reception. We will pay attention to issues such as intersectional approaches of gender and ethnicity, the participation of victims and responsible ones, the complementarity of commissions with other forms of transitional justice, and the management and access to their archives. (PEAC 392 and POL3 392 are cross-listed courses.)
  • This course provides the student with an in-depth study of conflict and its resolution. We will explore the basic theoretical concepts of the field and apply this knowledge as we learn and practice skills for analyzing and resolving conflicts. The course seeks to answer the following questions at both the theoretical level and the level of engaged action: What are the causes and consequences of conflict? How do we come to know and understand conflict? How do our assumptions about conflict affect our strategies for management, resolution, or transformation? What methods are available for waging and resolving conflicts productively rather than destructively?
  • An interdisciplinary introduction to the study of conflict, justice, and peace. The course engages students in developing an analytical and theoretical framework for examining the dynamics of conflict, violence, and injustice and the strategies that have been employed to attain peace and justice, including balance of power, cooperation, diplomacy and conflict resolution, law, human rights, social movements, social justice (economic, environmental, and race/class/gender), interpersonal communication, and religiously inspired social transformation.