Scottish Soldier-Heroes and Patriotic War Heroines: The Gendered Politics of World War I Commemoration

Citation:

Danilova, Nataliya, and Emma Dolan. 2020. "Scottish Soldier-Heroes and Patriotic War Heroines: The Gendered Politics of World War I Commemoration." Gender, Place & Culture 27 (2): 239-60.

Authors: Nataliya Danilova, Emma Dolan

Abstract:

This paper explores the (re)production of embodied gendered and racialised identities as part of commemorations devised by the Scottish government to mark the Centenary of WWI, 2014–18. In particular, we demonstrate how the Centenary has re-established Scotland’s key contribution to British military power instead of providing a platform for a broader discussion of British wars and Scotland’s role therein. Our analysis posits that this reframing was achieved through the (re)production of a gendered polarisation between white ‘dead’ soldier-heroes, ‘local lads’ and bearers of a ‘proud Scottish military tradition’; and women as embodiments of patriotic motherhood. We further explore the deployment of specific discursive and performative means to transform Dr Elsie Inglis, the only woman whose contribution was singled out by WW100 Scotland, into a patriotic war heroine. This was achieved by the militarisation of her work; the obscuring of identity, class- and race-based hierarchies within women’s war-work; and, finally, through the subversion of feminist ideas and practices in Inglis’ work for the Scottish Women’s Hospitals. Lastly, we reflect on the gendered legacy of the Centenary, emphasising the necessity for critical engagement with Britain’s wars and Scotland’s role therein.
 

Keywords: Britain, commemoration, gender, militarisation, performance

Topics: Class, Feminisms, Gender, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarization, Race Regions: Europe, Northern Europe Countries: United Kingdom

Year: 2020

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