Major Department

International Studies


College of Liberal Arts & Sciences


BA (Bachelor of Arts)

Session and Year of Graduation

Spring 2018

Honors Major Advisor

Emily Wentzell

Thesis Mentor

Aniruddha Dutta


Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the United States waged its longest-running war on Afghanistan. Military intervention was justified through representations of oppressed Afghan women to frame the “War on Terror” as a war for women. The Bush administration's war propaganda exploited the plight of Afghan women by co-opting a feminism-as-humanitarianism framework. This approach, cloaked in universalist language, was uncritically accepted by the Feminist Majority Foundation’s (FMF) campaign to stop gender apartheid. Through careful consideration of the Bush administration and the Feminist Majority Foundation's Taliban-centered rhetoric, this thesis offers a critical analysis of the ahistorical and imperialist backdrop in which representations of Afghan women are embedded. Emphasizing the underlying geopolitical and economic motives of US military intervention in Afghanistan, I argue that the Feminist Majority Foundation is shaped by the discourse of modern US imperialism and appropriates a feminism-as-humanitarianism framework, which contradicts their mission. These contradictions reinforce the East versus West binary and are best articulated through images of the ubiquitous blue burqa. The Feminist Majority Foundation and the Bush administration’s rhetoric go beyond recycling the imagery and mentality of the “clash of civilizations.” The destructive consequences of US foreign policy and imperialism are justified by ideological constructions of the West versus the Islamic “Other.” This thesis raises relevant concerns of the role of feminist NGOs in 21st century imperial political projects. My findings insist that feminist solidarity should be based on geographically and culturally specific histories of struggle and understood through Muslim women’s interpretation of their identity and freedom, amidst and beyond the “War on Terror.”


Afghanistan, women, transnational feminism, War on Terror, US imperialism, Clash of Civilizations

Total Pages

43 pages


Copyright © 2018 Lina Khodor

Additional Files

Khodor_ISPoster.pdf (209 kB)