The Colloquium was held on November 22, 2019 at Laval University in the Laurentian Pavilion. It was organized by Dr. Anessa Kimball, Associate Professor of Political Science, Director of the Centre for International Security and Co-Director of The Canadian Defence and Security Network (security component). The event consisted of three panels, the first on critical studies and various methodological approaches, the second on gender-based analysis in the Armed Forces and researchers working on defence and security issues in Canada, and the third on the role of self-directed learning and quantitative approaches in defence and security studies. These presentations were followed by a methodological speed dating and/or an information session on the work of the CDSN led by CDSN Director Professor Stephen Saideman. Finally, a reception at the Circle of the Quebec Garrison in Quebec City's Old Town concluded the conference.
Words of welcome were delivered by Professor Kimball. For the Director of the ISC, there are a multitude of obstacles facing researchers beginning defence and security research. Also, to cope it is important to integrate plurality and diversity in approaches and points of view as well as in methodology, but also in language. Thus, the training of researchers must also be based on these various approaches and a strong methodology.
The first panel was chaired by Professor Philipe Bourbeau, Director of “École Supérieure d’Études Internationales” (HEI) and holder of the Canada Research Chair on International Security and Migration at Laval University. He will be accompanied by Professor Srdjan Vucetic of the University of Ottawa and Co-Director of CDSN, as well as Meaghan Shoemaker PhD candidate at Queen's University.
Professor Bourbeau in his introduction to the debates returned to the importance of analyzing international issues in a multidisciplinary way in order to better understand them.
Professor Vucetic then gave a presentation on the relevance of ontology and epistemology to defence and security studies in Canada, arguing that as social scientists and historians studying this topic have become more reflexive, and as most scholars accept that no security analysis has ever been ontologically neutral. Finally, he stressed that methodological discussions should emerge from a sustained ontological and epistemological reflection.
Ms. Shoemaker then presented some of her research on the deployment of women in the Armed Forces. Her work is based on a mixed methodology of interviews and data. The results of her work show that the number of women in the military is gradually increasing, however the deployment of women in NATO operations remains limited. As a result, they are seven times less likely than men to participate in a NATO external operation. Several factors explain this finding, such as the persistence of certain functional and organizational barriers, but also the fear of a certain number of people regarding the risks: sexual violence and troop security. In addition, the mentality of certain corps such as the infantry remains resistant to change. In addition, it would appear that selection for these missions is based on some form of favoritism, which is detrimental to the representation of women in these external operations.
The second panel is chaired by Professor Pauline Coté, Director of the BIAPRI Program and BA in Political Science at Laval University. She will be accompanied by Dr. Karen D. Davis, Chief of the Research Section at the Director General of the Centre for Research and Analysis (Military Personnel) at the Canadian Department of National Defence, as well as Ms. Solomon, PhD student at the Balsillie School of International Affairs at the University of Waterloo.
Dr. Davis began her presentation with a presentation of DGMPRA, a research structure composed of military and scientists working on defence issues that aims to provide scientific support to the Department of National Defence and thus accompany and anticipate socio-cultural changes by fostering a culture of leadership. The center also seeks to engage students by involving them in research. Current research focuses on the recruitment of members of minority groups, the recruitment and well-being of Aboriginal peoples, the recruitment of women as well as the integration of a gender perspective into operational roles, the attitudes and behaviors of members of the Canadian Armed Forces - CAF (parental leave; attitudes towards sexual orientation), the review of employment equity systems, racism and discrimination, diversity and inclusion. Most research is based on surveys and voluntary participation. This allows for quick, representative and relevant samples. The Challenge consists in integrating socio-cultural changes in order to better cope with societal evolutions. Thus, the integration of gender analysis contributes to the better understanding and integration of gender diversity in the Canadian Armed Forces.
Ms. Bukola's presentation, entitled "Mothers, the Missing Link: A Critical Analysis of Women-Centered Counter-Terrorism Measures," focuses on the central role of women in counterterrorism. This presentation builds on her research. Her presentation includes two highlights, a presentation of her work and a presentation of her scientific approach. Her presentation tends to demonstrate the existence of an asymmetry between the political perception of the role of women in the fight against terrorism and the reality on the ground because "political actors use gendered language in the fight against terrorism to create categories and roles that differentiate between men and women, and therefore reinforce imbalances". These perceptions ignore the role of women in terrorist organizations, particularly within the Islamic State. They attribute to them skills that they do not have, because without adequate training, many of these women would not be able to distinguish between a normal teenager and a teenager in the process of radicalization. Nor would they wish to damage relations with their children by being overly vigilant. Thus, it would appear that researchers do not take sufficient account of the active role played by women in collecting and analyzing information for terrorist organizations. These reflections wish to answer the following questions: Does being a mother translate into the ability and/or desire to combat radicalization? How do women embrace or challenge this role? To answer these questions, the speaker focuses on the feminist perspective inspired by Cynthia Enloe. Indeed, the central place of women in the home allows them to detect the first signs of radicalization and extremism from their children or husbands. Thus, in Niger and London, women and mothers, by denouncing the behavior of their husbands or children, actively participate in the fight against terrorism. This approach led to major investments to turn mothers into "spy mothers". However, this vision has two limitations, the first being the marginalization of unmarried and childless women. The second lies in the mystification of women, which prevents them from being imagined as actors in violent terrorist organizations.
The third panel entitled "Machine Learning and Quantitative Approaches" was chaired by Dr. Justin Savoie, Senior Data Scientist at Vox Pop Labs, accompanied by Dr. Jean-Christophe Boucher, Professor at the University of Calgary and Co-Director of CDSN (Operations). He was also joined by Tyler Girard, Ph.D. student in political science at the University of Western Ontario.
Professor Boucher's presentation focused on the impact of social networks in the mobilization of the diaspora. He wondered whether a diaspora can influence the policy of the state in which it is located. To support his work, he took the example of Ukraine and the crisis in Crimea between 2013 and 2014. For some commentators, the Ukrainian-Canadian lobby influenced Canadian foreign policy during the Ukrainian-Russian crisis, including the Euromaidan episodes and the annexation of the Crimea. But what about it? The analysis of the use of social networks in this crisis helps to answer the question. Indeed, social networks make it possible to reach a large audience while offering increased visibility. From then on, two hypotheses were put forward, the first one assuming that the mobilization of the Ukrainian-Canadian diaspora should encourage the mobilization of other actors in Canadian society. The second hypothesis was that the Ukrainian-Canadian framework of Euromaidan and the annexation of the Crimea should influence the way other actors frame the crisis. These assumptions were tested through quantitative and qualitative analysis of tweets sent during the period from December 4, 2013 to March 23, 2014. This analysis allowed a breakdown of the Ukrainian crisis into six stages: the demonstrations in Euromaidan Square and clashes between demonstrators and police (11 December 2013), the assault by demonstrators on the Ministry of Justice, the Sochi Olympics, the Little Green Men in the Crimea, the official Russian invasion of the Crimea, the referendum on the status of the Crimea). This breakdown made it possible to distribute, according to the "Louvain algorithm", the origin of the tweets and their affiliations between members of the diaspora, the Canadian government, pro-Russians, the international press and other actors. Thus, it can be seen that the diaspora was active throughout this period, while the mobilization of the Canadian government began with the crisis in the Crimea. Moreover, there appears to be little connection of influence between the Ukrainian diaspora and the Canadian government's response. It would also appear that the diaspora uses social networks for the most part to raise awareness in their community.
Dr. Girard's presentation focused on the impact of quantitative analysis in social science research. How can they be taken into account? How to analyze the flow of data? How to convert psychologically inspired test results into mathematically quantifiable data? Can the social sciences do this? By applying a mathematical method, it is possible to create indices that can measure several variables. However, it remains difficult to integrate the notion of uncertainty. It is therefore necessary to combine empirical and mathematical data in order to have the most complete picture possible.
Professor Kimball concluded the conference with some thoughts on the impact of quantitative studies on defence and security research in Canada. It also emerged that there is no Canadian journal specializing in this field of research. Moreover, only 6% of researchers use this method in Canada. This makes it difficult to exchange information with other researchers who do not use quantitative studies. This contributes to further marginalizing those who use them. Thus, in thirty years, only 2.1% of articles in international relations integrate quantitative data. This percentage falls to 1% when it comes to defence and security issues.