Elisabeth Wood

“Rape is not the unavoidable collateral damage of war. Victims – women and men of all ages – are not brought down by crossfire or an errant missile, and it is not they who should suffer the stigma of rape but the perpetrators. They were intentionally violated. As Neil Mitchell has emphasized, ‘…rape is not done by mistake.’

But rape is not inevitable in war. Armed groups—non-state actors as well as state militaries—often choose to prohibit rape by their members and do so effectively. This fact should strengthen efforts to hold accountable groups that do engage in rape.” 

— Elisabeth Jean Wood

Elisabeth Jean Wood , Franklin Muzzy Crosby Professor of the Human Environment and Professor of Political Science, International and Area Studies at Yale University,  is currently writing two books, one on sexual violence during war, drawing on field research in several countries, and a second on political violence in Colombia (with Francisco Gutiérrez Sanín).

She is the author of Forging Democracy from Below: Insurgent Transitions in South Africa and El Salvador and Insurgent Collective Action and Civil War in El Salvador, and co-editor with Morten Bergsmo and Alf B. Skre of Understanding and Proving International Sex Crimes and with Ian Shapiro, Susan C. Stokes, and Alexander S. Kirshner of Political Representation.

Among her recent articles and book chapters are “Rape as a Practice of War: Towards a Typology of Political Violence,” “Ideology and the Implicit Authorization of Violence as Policy: The Myanmar Military’s Conflict-Related Sexual Violence against the Rohingya” (with Mayesha Alam), “Sexual Violence as a Practice of War: Implications for the Investigation and Prosecution of Atrocity Crimes” (with Kim Thuy Seelinger), “The Islamic State’s Pattern of Sexual Violence: Ideology and Institutions, Policies and Practices” (with Mara Revkin), “The Persistence of Sexual Assault within the US Military” (with Nathaniel Toppelberg), “What Should We Mean by ‘Pattern of Political Violence’? Repertoire, Targeting, Frequency, and Technique,”  (with Francisco Gutiérrez Sanín), “Ideology and Civil War: Instrumental Adoption and Beyond”  (with Francisco Gutiérrez Sanín), “Armed groups and sexual violence: when is wartime rape rare?” and “The Social Processes of Civil War: The Wartime Transformation of Social Networks.”

Elisabeth is currently one of twelve co-editors of the American Political Science Review. She also serves on the Editorial Boards of World Politics and the Contentious Politics series of the Cambridge University Press.

Elisabeth was named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2010. She has carried out field research in Colombia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, El Salvador, Peru, and Israel/Palestine.

At Yale she serves as Co-Director of the Program in Agrarian Studies and teaches courses on comparative politics, political violence, social movements and community organizing, agrarian studies and qualitative research methods. She received the Graduate Mentor Award for the Social Sciences in May 2013.