Chapter 27: Abstract

Gender, the Wars of Decolonization, and the Decline of Empires after 1945

Raphaëlle Branche (Université de Rouen, Département d'histoire)

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, 677-97.


During the post-1945 Wars of Decolonization gender was often as a site of contestation. Colonial repression was based on a gender order, which intersected with the constructed racial and social hierarchies in the colonies. The way imperial powers’ policies used and impacted gender relations to secure their rule has to be taken into account, when we study the anticolonial struggle. The Wars of Decolonization after 1945 were as much “total wars” as the First and Second World War. They too affected all areas of the economy, society and culture. The struggle for liberation challenged the ideas of white manhood of the colonial powers, but also led to conflicts in the construction of male identity within the armies of the insurgents. One challenge was here the fact that not only men, but also women actively participated in the struggle for national liberation, which challenged dominant ideas of the gender order and lead to a reconsideration of gender relations during the and after the conflicts. These are the themes this chapter will explore.


Post-1945; Wars of Decolonization; total war; colonial rule; anticolonial movements; guerrilla; national liberation; generations; sexuality; gender.

Part IV: "From the Global Cold War to the Conflicts of the Post-Cold War Era" of the Oxford Handbook of Gender, War and the Western World since 1600.

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