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Dr Hanna Ketola
Postdoctoral Research Associate



Hanna joined the Department as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in January 2023. She is currently engaged with the UKRI-funded ‘Civil War Paths’ project, where she works on feminist theories of civil war, familial ties and experiences of former fighters. Prior to this, she has pursued several postdoctoral projects, including her ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship at King’s College London and a fellowship with the Gender, Justice and Security Hub (LSE). She completed her PhD from King’s College London, where her thesis focused on women’s political agency in the context of peacebuilding in post-conflict Nepal.    

Hanna’s research explores gender, war and peace, and is grounded in feminist theory and ethnographic methods. She is interested in questions around political agency, affect and emotions, familial ties, subaltern politics, and legacies of violence. Her work has appeared in Security Dialogue, International Political Sociology, Civil Wars, Journal of Human Security and International Feminist Journal of Politics. Hanna has created and co-hosts a story-based podcast called ‘Women at War and its Aftermath’, funded by ESRC.



My research explores gender, war and peace, and is grounded in feminist theory and ethnographic methods. My regional expertise is South Asia, specifically Nepal where I have done extensive field research.

Post-war expressions of political agency   

Since completing my PhD, I have been developing a research agenda that centres on feminist theorising of agency across war and post-war contexts, situated at the intersection of feminist IR and peace and conflict studies. My thesis offers a critical rethinking of post-war agency by capturing heterogeneous modalities of agency that go beyond the capacity to resist liberal peacebuilding or regulatory gender norms. This research involved extensive field research in Nepal, focusing on experiences of women ex-fighters and women activists mobilising around enforced disappearances.  My ESRC postdoctoral fellowship allowed me to consolidate the impact of my PhD through academic and creative outputs, and to embark on a book project.

My book manuscript ‘Subaltern Politics in Post-War times: Rethinking Feminist Theories of Agency’ sheds new light on issues of political agency and the question of what forms of agency matter. Theoretically, it reconceptualises ‘subaltern’ political agency for post-war contexts. Empirically, it offers a thick ethnographic analysis of heterogeneous modes of political agency, which allows me to move beyond sets of binaries that tend to frame agency in feminist and critical analysis. A part of this research has been published in Security Dialogue.

Familial ties, militarisation and affect

Through my postdoctoral projects, I have developed a research agenda that explores the role of family and familial ties in war and its aftermath. This has involved engaging with feminist theorisation of militarisation and affect, including co-authoring the article ‘The Cruel Optimism of Militarism: Feminist Curiosity, Affect, and Global Security’. Building on this, my current work develops an understanding of familial ties in civil war as ‘affective ties’ that emerge through and are transformed by violence. This research has included conducting life history interviews with people who participated in the Maoist movement in Nepal as fighters, political organisers and artists. A part of this ongoing research has been published in the journal of Civil Wars.


Selected publications

Ketola, H (2023) Familial Ties as a Gendered Relationality in Civil War: Militarisation, Violence and Politics, Civil Wars. Online First. 

Ketola, H (2020) Withdrawing from Politics? Gender, Agency and Women ex-Fighters in Nepal, Security Dialogue, 51(6), 519–536. 

Riley, H; Ketola, H; Yadav, P. (2022) Gender, populism and collective identity: a feminist analysis of the Maoist movement in Nepal, Journal of Human Security, 18(2): 35–46, 10.12924/johs2022.18020035.

Chisholm, A and Ketola, H (2020) The Cruel Optimism of Militarism: Feminist Curiosity, Affect, and Global Security, International Political Sociology, 14 (3), 270–285, 

Ketola, H (2021) Trauma, Memory and Peacebuilding in Tarja Väyrynen, Swati Parashar, Élise Féron, Catia Cecilia Confrontini (Eds) Routledge Handbook of Feminist Peace Research, London Routledge.

Ketola, H (forthcoming) A Review of Heidi Riley’s, Rethinking Masculinities: Ideology, Identity and Change in the People's War in Nepal and Its Aftermath’, Book Review, International Feminist Journal of Politics.


Podcast: Women at War and its Aftermath

Woman at War and its Aftermath is a story-based podcast that explores stories of women who fight and mobilise for what they believe in. I co-created and co-host the podcast with Swastika Kasaju, who is a consultant in international development.

We discuss what it means to be an agent in war – or in peace. How might women’s activism and involvement in politics take many forms? We also offer glimpses into the research encounters through which these stories emerged – reflecting on power relations, negotiations, mistakes, feelings of frustration as well as joy. We ask, what role does the researcher play in generating stories and multiple readings of stories? The first series focuses on stories of women who have experienced the People’s War in Nepal.

The podcast was funded by my ESRC Fellowship grant and is based on my PhD field research material.

Contact details

Dr Hanna Ketola
Department of Politics
University of York
YO10 5DD