Mobilizing Mothers for War: Cross-National Framing Strategies in Nicaragua’s Contra War


De Volo, Lorraine Bayard. 2004. “Mobilizing Mothers for War: Cross-National Framing Strategies in Nicaragua’s Contra War.” Gender & Society 18 (6): 715-34.

Author: Lorraine Bayard De Volo


Studies document that in wartime, states often employ maternal imagery and mobilize women as mothers. Yet we know relatively little about when and why states and their Opposition do so. This study seeks to build theory for this phenomenon through frame analysis of the Nicaraguan Contra War. The author proposes that maternal framing aimed at mothers as well as a broader national and international audience, benefits militaries in at least three ways: (1) channeling maternal grievances, (2) disseminating propaganda through "apolitical" mothers, and (3) evoking emotions and sympathy nationally and internationally. This study furthermore explores three underexamined features of both gendered studies of war and frame analysis: (1) It applies frame theory to states, (2) it develops our understanding of cross-national gendered framing strategies, and (3) it introduces gender framing to the study of war.

Keywords: mothers, women, war, framing, Nicaragua

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Gender, Women Regions: Americas, Central America Countries: Nicaragua

Year: 2004

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