Family values? Sexism and heteronormativity in Feminist Evolutionary Analytic (FEA) research

Helen M. Kinsella, Laura Sjoberg

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In this article, we focus on the subset of evolutionary theorising self-identified as Feminist Evolutionary Analytic (FEA) within security studies and International Relations. We offer this accounting in four sections. First, we provide a brief overview of the argument that reproductive interests are the 'origins' of international violence. Second, we break down the definitions of gender, sex, and sexuality used in evolutionary work in security studies generally and in FEA specifically, demonstrating a lack of complexity in FEA's accounts of the potential relations among the three and critiquing their essentialist heteronormative assumptions. Third, we argue that FEA's failure to reflect on the history and context of evolutionary theorising, much less contemporary feminist critiques, facilitates its forwarding of the state and institutions as primarily neutral and corrective bulwarks against male violence. Fourth, we conclude by outlining what is at stake if we fail to correct for this direction in feminist, IR, and security research. We argue that FEA work misrepresents and narrows the potential for understanding and responding to violence, facilitating the continued instrumentalisation of women's rights, increased government regulation of sexuality, and a more expansive form of militarism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)260-279
Number of pages20
JournalReview of International Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019


  • Conflict
  • Evolution
  • Feminism
  • Gender
  • Terrorism
  • War


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