Embracing Arms: Cultural Representation of Slavic and Balkan Women in War. Budapest: CEU Press, 2012. - 360 p.
Edited by Helena Goscilo, Professor of Slavic and Chair of the Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Literatures at the Ohio State University, Columbus and Yana Hashamova, Associate Professor of Slavic and Director of the Center for Slavic and East European Studies at Ohio State University
Discursive practices during war polarize and politicize gender: they normally require men to fulfill a single, overriding task—destroy the enemy—but impose a series of often contradictory expectations on women. The essays in the book establish links between political ideology, history, psychology, cultural studies, cinema, literature, and gender studies and addresses questions such as— what is the role of women in war or military conflicts beyond the well-studied victimization? Can the often contradictory expectations of women and their traditional roles be (re)thought and (re)constructed? How do cultural representations of women during war times reveal conflicting desires and poke holes in the ideological apparatus of the state and society?
Geographically, focuses on the USSR / Russia, Central Europe, and the Balkans; historically, on WWII; the secessionist war(s) in Chechnya (1994–96, 1999–); and the Bosnia / Croatia / Serbia war (1992–95).
I. WORLD WAR II
Film and Television: Elżbieta Ostrowska: Invisible Deaths: Polish Cinema’s Representation of Women in World War II; Alexander Prokhorov: She Defends His Motherland: The Myth of Mother Russia in Soviet Maternal Melodrama of the 1940s; Tatiana Mikhailova and Mark Lipovetsky: The Subjectivity of a Female War Veteran in Larisa Shepit’ko’s Wings; Elena Prokhorova: Gender(ed) Games: Romance, Slapstick, and Ideology in the Polish Television Series Four Tank Men and a Dog;
Literature, graphics, song: Irina Sandomirskaja; Rage, Body, and Power Talk in the City of Hunger: the Politics of Womanliness in Lidia Ginzburg’s Notes from the Siege of Leningrad; Helena Goscilo: Graphic Womanhood under Fire; Robert Rothstein: Songs of Women Warriors and Women Who Waited.
II. RECENT WARS Trina Mamoon: “Black Widows”: Women as Political Combatants in the Chechen Conflict; Yana Hashamova: War Rape: (Re)defining Motherhood, Fatherhood, and Nationhood; Jessica Wienhold-Brokish: Dubravka Ugre šić’s War Museum: Approaching the “Point of Pain” List of Contributors
Excerpt from the book review:
"Despite extensive female involvement in numerous war-related activities, the notion that war is a male endeavor with no place for women has long held ideological sway in many societies. Recently, a number of studies have critically analyzed the presumed masculinity of war. This collection represents a valuable contribution in this vein, demonstrating how eastern European cultural productions both upheld this masculine interpretation of war and countered it with gendered realities. The essays included were written primarily by scholars of Slavic and Balkan literature and culture and speak to an audience of educated readers familiar with the subjects engaged. The book also includes some beautiful and colorful images of many of the cultural representations discussed.
Overall this book presents an important contribution to the field of women and war studies by offering a number of interesting new insights into how cultural productions preserved the notion of the masculinity of war as well as how they worked against it". - Slavic Review