Tuesday, March 08, 2005

International Women's Day

It has been a long time since I have written for this blog. Since it is the International Women's day, I thought I cannot skip writing today. Frankly, it seems a bit odd to designate one day out of a whole year to women, as if the remaining 364 days belong to men. In a sense, this form of creating "special days" also creates "special" populations who stand outside the norm (but I also understand that they give visibility to the "marginalized").
In any case, since I have been pre-occupied with the issue of war these days, and since in the class I teach, we are discussing gender and nationalism tonight, I should introduce a great book that came out in 2004 (Palgrave MacMillan). I have assigned two chapters of this book as a part of tonight's discussion and highly recommend it to those of you who are interested in issues of nationalism and militarism. The book is called the Myth of the Military Nation: Militarism, Gender, and Education in Turkey. The author, Ayse Gul Altinay does a great job discussing the making of the myth of the "military nation" in modern Turkey and analyzes its role in the formation of gendered national identities. She shows that since the 19th century, feminism and nationalism (be it in the context of the Ottoman Empire or the Turkish nation-state) have worked together, and that militarization has been a disciplining, masculinizing, and nationalizing process in Turkey.
Speaking of militarization, I would like to post a piece that was circulated immediately after September 11, 2001 by a group of feminist scholars (some of whom are my former professors). This piece was initially circulated on-line, but was later published in the Meridians 2.2 Spring 2002. This is one of the best analyses I have seen on the "war on terrorism." If you have not read it before, you may find it very relevant to the issues we are facing today. Here is the piece called Transnational Feminist Practices Against War, by Paola Bacchetta, Tina Campt, Inderpal Grewal, Caren Kaplan, Minoo Moallem, and Jennifer Terry (October 2001). Click on the text to read the whole thing.

"As feminist theorists of transnational and postmodern cultural formations, we believe that it is crucial to seek non-violent solutions to conflicts at every level of society, from the global, regional, and national arenas to the ordinary locales of everyday life. We offer the following response to the events of September 11 and its aftermath:
First and foremost, we need to analyze the thoroughly gendered and racialized effects of nationalism, and to identify what kinds of inclusions and exclusions are being enacted in the name of patriotism. Recalling the histories of various nationalisms helps us to identify tacit assumptions about gender, race, nation, and class that once again play a central role in mobilization for war. We see that instead of a necessary historical, material, and geopolitical analysis of 9-11, the emerging nationalist discourses consist of misleading and highly sentimentalized narratives that, among other things, reinscribe compulsory heterosexuality and the rigidly dichotomized gender roles upon which it is based. A number of icons constitute the ideal types in the drama of nationalist domesticity that we see displayed in the mainstream media. These include the masculine citizen-soldier, the patriotic wife and mother, the breadwinning father who is head of household, and the properly reproductive family. We also observe how this drama is racialized. Most media representations in the US have focused exclusively on losses suffered by white, middle-class heterosexual families even though those who died or were injured include many people of different races, classes, sexualities, and religions and of at least 90 different nationalities. Thus, an analysis that elucidates the repressive effects of nationalist discourses is necessary for building a world that fosters peace as well as social and economic justice."


The sidebar image is taken from Mahmoud Pakzad's "Old Tehran", Did Publishers, 1994. Thanks to Jahanshah Javid (www.iranian.com) for sharing it.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com