Women at war: from the home front to the battlefields
Montreal, October 21-22, 2020
The theatre of war has long been perceived as the exclusive domain of men. Yet women are far from being absent from it, whether as victims or as implicated actresses. Central to all societies, the military factor and the experience of war are an important element of the social construction of gender since Antiquity. Organized by the War History Research Group, this colloquium therefore aims to examine the relationship between women and war and the way in which "femininities" are constructed.
The military history of women has long been reduced to great Western female figures and warlords, from Boudicca to Joan of Arc. When mentioned, women are often reduced to the physical and psychological violence to which they are subjected or to their experiences behind the front lines as workers, nurses or messengers. When it comes to gender in war, it was mainly the construction of masculine identities in warfare that was questioned. It is only after the acceptance of women in active roles in the military during the 20th century that researchers began to focus their work on the participation of women within military's institutions and in battles (Thomas, 1978; Bard, 1995). More recently, studies have focused on the experiences of women as combatants, on their places in military structures and its institutions, and the interaction of armed forces with societies to access women's experience in war (Lynn, 2008; Virgili 2011; Clio, 2006).
At the intersection of the military history, women’s history and gender studies, this conference aims to address the multiple forms of women's presence in the armed forces, their experiences of war and the construction of "femininities" in warfare. It wishes to address these themes over the long term, from Antiquity to the present day, and by going beyond the borders of Europe to embrace these issues in a global and transnational perspectives. Indeed, women's relations with the army and the social construction of gender within it, as well as their forms, manifestations and meanings, differ according to time, places and conflicts. Relationships, roles and sexual identities are thus determined and reinterpreted according to the martial, social and cultural norms in which they are embedded. This symposium thus proposes to pursue the reflections initiated by historians of war and the military factor in order to participate in the renewal of their questions. What are the relationships between women and the army? What are their roles within it? How to think and represent warrior "femininities"? What place do female warrior figures have in a combattant’s imagination? How do military, social and cultural representations influence women's experience in the military institution and in combat?
At the crossroads of these reflections, the research proposals may be based on a few broad guidelines:
- To think about the relationship between women and military institutions in different chronological, political and cultural contexts;
- To explore the expression, construction and evolution of "femininities" in the war context;
- To examine the war experience of women, whether they are combatants or not.
The colloquium, organized with the support of the Department of History of UQAM, the Centre Interuniversitaire de Recherche sur la première Modernité (CIREM 16-18) and the Groupe de recherche en histoire des sociabilités (GRHS), is interdisciplinary and open to all graduate students (master's, doctoral and post-doctoral levels) in history, art history, literary studies and philosophy, as well as all other fields in the humanities and social sciences. It will welcome all proposals related to the study of women in war situations, from antiquity to the present day. The themes raised above do not in any way limit the proposals that may be sent.
Proposals for papers can be sent in English or French (300 words maximum) before January 15, 2020, to the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Proposals should include a brief presentation of the studied corpus (sources, survey framework and methodology) and a short bibliography (max. 10 titles). They should also include your full name and institutional affiliation, level of study (master, doctoral, post-doctoral), a curriculum vitae and indicate any financial support requirements for travel and accommodation as well as the estimated cost of travel. The symposium will take place on 21-22 October 2020.
Important note. As much as possible, the organizers will try to cover for travel and accommodation expenses of conference participants. However, all those who could potentially provide their own funding through the support of their university or research group are invited to let us know when they send in their proposal. The existence of external funding (even if not guaranteed) is, in fact, an important prerequisite for the general grant application that will be submitted for the organization of the colloquium.
Scientific Committee: Violaine Sebillotte Cuchet (Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne), Lyse Roy (UQÀM), Carl Bourchard (Université de Montréal), Ersy Contogouris (Université de Montréal), Piroska Nagy (UQÀM), Frédéric Charbonneau (Université McGill), Benjamin Deruelle (UQÀM)
Organizing Committee: Nicolas Handfield, Philipp Portelance, Vicky Laprade, Philippe Sainte-Marie, Chloe Raymond-Poitras, Mathilde Viberti, Alexandre Vaillancourt
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