WR1003 War and Reconstuction in the Balkans
Week 7 Gender, Nationalism and War

1. Introduction

Today I am going to argue that nationalism and war in Yugoslavia had a significant impact on ideas and practices concerning gender - or in other words, on how men and women were viewed and on how men and women were treated. In general terms, the growth of nationalism involved a much greater emphasis on gender differences – the different characteristics, roles, power and status of men and women.

Enloe in Quote 1 on your handout argues that all types of nationalism have tended to spring 'from masculinized memory, masculinized humiliation and masculinized hope.’
Enloe, C. (1989) Bananas, Beaches and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics Berkeley & Los Angeles, University of California Press, p. 44.
So nationalism is a project dominated by men and by particular values associated with masculinity.

So what is the role of women in nationalism in Yugoslavia?

Yuval-Davis & Anthias in Quote 2 outline 5 main ways in which women are engaged in the development of ethnic and national identities in general

  • as biological producers of members of ethnic collectivities
  • as reproducers of the boundaries of ethnic/national groups
  • as participating centrally in the ideological reproduction of the collectivity and as transmitters of its culture
  • as signifiers of ethnic/national differences – as a focus and symbol in ideological discourses used in the construction, reproduction and transformation of ethnic/national categories
  • as participants in national economic, political and military struggles
Can you express these 5 ways in simpler language?

I have got 4 slightly different points to make about the increase emphasis on gender differences in the Balkans in the late 1980s and 1990s and 4 more points about how war impacted differently on men and women.

Gender Roles & Gender Relations in Balkan Nationalism

Women Men
Symbols of that which needs to be protectedProtectors
Reproducers of children to strengthen the nation and especially of sons who will fight for the nationWarriors
Keepers of the home & educators of childrenWorkers and actors in the public sphere
Limited autonomy and powerGreater power and prestige

Impact of war on women and men

Militarization of society gave even greater emphasis to the gender differences above.

WomenMen
Small minority of armed groups - strongly discouraged from front line service – allocated to administrative and medical back up roles.Conscripted into armies or forced into armed groups
Large proportion of civilians
84% of adult refugees
Male refugees lost traditional basis of authority – some became passive, others ultra-authoritarian.
Women’s bodies became, like territory, that which was fought over. Some men were raped according to Marie Stopes International.
Militarization of society contributed to rise in domestic violenceMen brutalized and traumatized

1. Introduction / 2. Context / 3. Chronology / 4. Women as Symbols / 5. Women as Reproducers / 6. Women as Keepers of the Home / 7. Limited Autonomy / 8. Women in Armed Groups / 9. Women Civilians / 10. Women's Bodies as Territory / 11. Militarization of Society / 12. Reading

URL: http://pers-www.wlv.ac.uk/~le1810/wr1003.htm
Page created by Penny Welch March 2003

Women's Studies Links Politics Links My Homepage University Disclaimer