Gender, Revolution, and War: The Mobilization of Women in the Yugoslav Partisan Resistance During World War II

TitleGender, Revolution, and War: The Mobilization of Women in the Yugoslav Partisan Resistance During World War II
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsBatinic, Jelena
Academic DepartmentHistory
Number of Pages370
UniversityStanford University
CityStanford, CA

The mass participation of women in the communist-led Yugoslav Partisan resistance is one of the most remarkable phenomena of World War II. Drawing on an array of diverse sources--including archival records of the Communist Party, Partisan military, and the Antifascist Front of Women, wartime press and propaganda, participant reminiscences and diaries, and Partisan folklore--this study explores the history and postwar memory of the phenomenon. It is, more broadly, concerned with changes in gender norms and values caused by the war, revolution, and the establishment of the communist regime, which claimed to have solved the "woman question" and instituted equality between the sexes.The reformulation of gender ideals and norms during the war happened primarily on three levels: on the level of political rhetoric, the level of institutions, and the level of daily practice. This study begins by analyzing the rhetoric that Partisan leaders devised to recruit women and justify their active participation in the movement. This work then moves on to examine the institutional basis--in the form of the Antifascist Front of Women (AFZ)--that the leadership developed for women's mobilization. Third, the author focuses on realities on the ground: on daily practice and, in particular, the problems of women's integration into the movement. The dissertation concludes with a discussion of the legacy of women's wartime mobilization. The author looks at the ways that the partizanka was memorialized in Yugoslavia's culture, tracing her journey from the revolutionary icon par excellence in the early postwar years to the oblivion of the present. 

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