The Constitution of a Gendered Enemy

  • Valeria E. Russo


Gender is being taken up as an analytical category towards the end of the twentieth century. In a famous 1986 article, the American historian Joan W. Scott defined it as a mode of referring to the social organization of the relation between the sexes, a notion introduced in order to ‘discover the range in sex roles and in sexual symbolism in different societies and periods, to find what meanings they had and how they functioned to maintain the social order or to promote its change’.1 Often the term ‘gender’ has been used to refer to the areas (whether structural or ideological) that concern women, children and the family, while areas like diplomacy, international relations, high politics and war have not yet been explicitly tested against the touchstone of the relation between the sexes: men, understood as ‘public men’ (J. Elshtain Bethke), seem in fact to exist ‘beyond gender relations to the same degree they dominate them. While the imperative that women’s history always be related to men’s has become commonplace, up to now the reverse has hardly been true. Military history and the history of warfare are a case in point. They have dealt exclusively with men — and for good reason, since in the Western world (at least within Europe) war has generally been a form of direct confrontation between groups of men. Nonetheless, explicitly male-specific issues have not been raised in this field, for example in its connection with the history of masculinity’.2


Armed Conflict Military History Male Culture American Historical Review Gender History 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1994

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  • Valeria E. Russo

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