Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Conflict Resolution Studies

First Advisor

Robin Cooper

Second Advisor

Mary Hope Schwoebel

Third Advisor

Elena Bastidas


The Afghan Women’s Writing Project (AWWP) emerged in 2009 as a platform through which Afghan women could express their lived experiences and perspectives on a range of culturally relevant issues while retaining their anonymity. The purpose of this research was to understand poetry as a conflict resolution tool that Afghan women are using to be active participants in the social, political and cultural dialogue that is determining their rights. This research focused on three questions: 1) How do Afghan women describe the state of womanhood in Afghanistan? 2) How do Afghan women describe the conflict they experience in their everyday lives? 3) How might poetry and narrative be used to manage the conflict that Afghan women are facing? This research presents a critical discourse analysis (CDA) of one hundred published poems from the AWWP poetry database. Data analysis included open coding, thematic analysis, and the use of van Dijk’s six-step CDA model to evaluate the semantic macrostructures, local meanings, linguistic markers, global and local discourse forms, linguistic realizations, analysis of context, and the researcher’s own interpretive analysis. The findings identify and explain the major themes derived from the study as well as describe how Afghan women feel about womanhood and conflict. The major themes included: child brides/forced marriage, hijab/burqa/niqab, women’s resistance, parents as protectors and/or perpetrators, the power of writing and stress as a result of conflict. This dissertation concludes with a discussion of implications for sustainable norm change using poetry, directions for future research, and recommendations for policy and programming.