Masculinity Nostalgia: How War and Occupation Inspire a Yearning for Gender Order

TitleMasculinity Nostalgia: How War and Occupation Inspire a Yearning for Gender Order
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsMacKenzie, Megan, and Alana Foster
JournalSecurity Dialogue
Date Published06/2017

This article investigates how war and occupation disrupt and produce new gender norms. It explores civilian masculinities and the ways in which masculinities are impacted by conflict and insecurity. Focusing on the West Bank, the authors argue that insecurity and occupation create the conditions for masculinity nostalgia, or a yearning for a set of gender norms and relations linked to fantasies of a secure, ‘traditional’ and ordered past. Masculinity nostalgia builds on conceptions of thwarted masculinity and the ways in which individuals are held accountable to gender norms. The article draws on interviews with Palestinians to highlight how masculinity nostalgia is associated with three particular identities: father, breadwinner and landowner. The authors demonstrate that Palestinian civilians lament the ways in which the occupation has impacted men’s ability to fulfil such archetypical identities, at the same time as they reaffirm the value and legitimacy of these identities. The article argues that peace and security are often assumed to be dependent upon ‘the return’ of men to their presumed rightful places at the head of households and as economic providers. In turn, masculinity nostalgia emphasizes the ways in which yearnings for peace and security can be interwoven with yearnings for patriarchal gendered orders. 

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