Gender, War, and Politics: The Wars of Revolution and Liberation - Transatlantic Comparisons, 1775 - 1820

May 17, 2007 - May 19, 2007

Conference at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | Conveners: Gisela Mettele (GHI), Karen Hagemann (The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

Organized by The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (History Department, College of Arts and Sciences, Carolina Center for Women, Curriculum in Women's Studies, Centre for European Studies, Institute for Arts & Humanities, Curriculum in Peace, War and Defense, Center for the Study of the American South, Curriculum in American Studies, Curriculum in International and Area Studies, Department of Music, The Graduate School, The Louis Round Wilson Library); The German Historical Institute, Washington D.C.; Duke University (Department of History, Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences, Office of the Provost, The Graduate School, Triangle Institute for Security Studies, Vice Provost for International Affairs, Center for International Studies, Women's Studies)

In the period between 1775 and 1820 the transatlantic world experienced more or less constant war, touching not only every European country but also North and South America and the Caribbean Islands. These 'revolutionary wars' were also 'national wars' or 'wars of liberation', increasingly fought by militia and conscripted troops. They transformed the conduct of warfare and at the same time deeply affected the lives of men and women in civil societies all over the world. As recent research has suggested, war is one of the key sites through which gender identities are negotiated and constructed. This conference addresses the relationship between war, the shaping of political and national identities and changing gender regimes in the period between 1775 and 1820. It will consider how far the mobilization of men for war contributed to more rigid notions of masculinity and femininity, which were constructed in relation to other categories of difference, in particular those of class, ethnicity, race and religion. At the same time it will recognize and explore the ways in which, paradoxically, women continued to participate in military institutions - as cross-dressers, camp followers, nurses and food suppliers - and increasingly found new ways of contributing to the war effort in civilian societies. The conference will also examine the relationship between gender and the memory of these wars into the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, studying not only the legacy of the gender ideals of the period 1775-1820 to subsequent generations, but also the gendering of the representation and the commemoration of these wars. Women's role in the preservation, construction, and transmission of memory will be a central strand of inquiry.