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Gender, Nationalism, and War
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Book description

Virginia Woolf famously wrote 'as a woman I have no country', suggesting that women had little stake in defending countries where they are considered second-class citizens, and should instead be forces for peace. Yet women have been perpetrators as well as victims of violence in nationalist conflicts. This unique book generates insights into the role of gender in nationalist violence by examining feature films from a range of conflict zones. In The Battle of Algiers, female bombers destroy civilians while men dress in women's clothes to prevent the French army from capturing and torturing them. Prisoner of the Mountains shows a Chechen girl falling in love with her Russian captive as his mother tries to rescue him. Providing historical and political context to these and other films, Matthew Evangelista identifies the key role that economic decline plays in threatening masculine identity and provoking the misogynistic violence that often accompanies nationalist wars.


‘A genuinely innovative contribution to the currently intense discussion about the gendered militarization of nationalism. Matthew Evangelista reveals how even serious international filmmakers often unwittingly reinforce wartime patriarchal norms while breaking cinematic conventions.’

Cynthia Enloe - Clark University and author of Nimo's War, Emma's War: Making Feminist Sense of the Iraq War (2010)

‘Matthew Evangelista has written an extraordinary book that transcends disciplinary boundaries to explore and explain the role of gender in nationalist violence. His approach is a challenge to normal political science and demonstrates what can be learned when imagination is applied to unconventional sources like movies. Taking emblematic films that depict the anti-colonial, civil, and ethnic wars in Algeria, Yugoslavia, Chechnya, and Quebec, Evangelista relates violence to threats to masculinity, the inequalities experienced by women, and the ambitions of nationalists. As horrific as the events depicted are, the author does not despair but indicates possible ways to avoid such sanguinary occasions in the future.’

Ronald Grigor Suny - Charles Tilly Collegiate Professor of Social and Political History and Director of the Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies, The University of Michigan

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