In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Situating Women and Gender in Militarization, War, and Partition
  • Frances S. Hasso (bio)
Cynthia Cockburn. The Line: Women, Partition and the Gender Order in Cyprus. London: Zed Books, 2004. ix + 244 pp.; ill. ISBN 1-84277-420-4 (cl); 1-84277-421-2 (pb).
Ellen Hampton. Women of Valor: The Rochambelles on the WWII Front. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006. xv + 233 pp.; ill. ISBN 978-1-4039-7143-2 (cl); 1-4039-7143-9 (pb).
Seungsook Moon. Militarized Modernity and Gendered Citizenship in South Korea. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005. x + 254 pp.; ill. ISBN 0-8223-3627-8 (cl); 0-8223-3616-2 (pb).
Janet M. Powers. Blossoms on the Olive Tree: Israeli and Palestinian Women Working for Peace. Forward by Betty A. Reardon; introduction by Elise Boulding. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2006. xxii + 160 pp.; ill. ISBN 0-275-99001-X (cl).
Rosemarie Skaine. Female Suicide Bombers. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2006. viii + 225 pp.; ill. ISBN 0-7864-2615-2 (pb).

A number of themes thread through this collection of books, even as they are differentiated by topic, geographic focus, research methodology, perceived audience, and quality. The most obvious shared thread is the focus on women in conflict zones or war. In Women of Valor and Female Suicide Bombers, the women involved are combatants, although the Rochambelles, who were largely deployed as ambulance drivers, nurses, and medics during World War II in France, are constructed by the author as agentic feminist heroes who chose to support the good fighters on the frontlines, while the women in Female Suicide Bombers, from Kurdish Turkey, Lebanon, Palestine, Sri Lanka, and Chechnya, are constructed as often unwitting participants motivated by ethnic or national subordination, and organized by the male leaders of militant movements. Three of the books consider the social, political, and embodied consequences of living in militarily divided societies: Blossoms on the Olive Tree, The Line, and Militarized Modernity, which focus on Israel-Palestine, Cyprus, and South Korea, respectively, although the first [End Page 171] two texts are most concerned with how contemporary women’s movements work to challenge ethnic/national divisions, while the last is most concerned with the state as actor and the responses over time of gendered and gender-segregated resistance movements to pervasive militarization and violent anticommunism. The research in three of the texts reviewed, Women of Valor, Blossoms on the Olive Tree, and The Line, depended to a significant degree on oral histories, letters, and other first-person texts. Moreover, this primary source material is woven together beautifully, especially in Women of Valor and The Line, making for rich and engaging reading. Women of Valor, The Line, and Militarized Modernity are the most scholarly in orientation, with the last two particularly so since they provide significant theoretical discussion, analytical frameworks, and are critically oriented, in addition to having the thorough original research and rigorous attention to evidence present in all three books.

In Women of Valor by journalist Ellen Hampton one finds a “herstory” targeted at military history aficionados interested in women’s combat involvement in World War II. While thousands of French women were involved in the war and in resistance organizations in various capacities, the Rochambelles, according to the author, were “the only women’s group constituted as such and assigned to a combat unit [the French Second Armored Division] on the European front” (3). The concerns of the Rochambelles were less feminist emancipation than a desire to liberate France. The group seems to have been predominantly white, although a few were of Jewish background. While not a critical scholarly analysis per se, the book is rich in empirical detail, seems carefully researched, and is well-written and highly readable. Hampton structures the book in a way that follows some of the women’s lives, struggles, relationships, losses, and decisionmaking processes, beginning before their involvement in the war and ending with a brief discussion of the struggles of “coming home” from the war front. The book also outlines a number of the major battles in which their division was involved in France. I found problematic the absence of any self-consciousness or reflection by the author or her research subjects on...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2036
Print ISSN
1042-7961
Pages
pp. 171-176
Launched on MUSE
2009-01-08
Open Access
No
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