Chapter 17: Abstract

Total Warfare, Gender, and the "Home Front" in Europe during the First and Second World Wars

Susan R. Grayzel (University of Mississippi, Department of History)

In Oxford Handbook of Gender, War, and the Western World since 1600, ed. by Karen Hagemann et al. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 432-50


This chapter traces the fundamental transformation of the European civilian experience of war during the First and Second World Wars. It begins by interrogating the category of the “homefront” at the moment of its entry into common parlance in World War I and looks at the incorporation of non-combatants into the waging of industrialized “total war.” It argues that gender was at the heart of this cultural change as civilian lives and spaces became targets of new modes of warfare and new forms of state intervention into domestic and everyday life. The chapter investigates civilian war work, the meanings of wartime violence and especially the experience of occupation, the growth of state interest in monitoring sex in order to prevent the spread of venereal disease, and above all, the expansion of state regulation in ways that militarized the home.


World War I and II;  Europe; Soviet Union; civil defense; civilian noncombatants; occupation; war mobilization; home front; war work; gender.

In Part III: "The Age of the World Wars" of the Oxford Handbook of Gender, War and the Western World since 1600.

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