Gender, Community and the Memory of the Second World War Occupation of the Channel Islands

TitleGender, Community and the Memory of the Second World War Occupation of the Channel Islands
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsWatkins, Nicolle
Academic DepartmentDepartment of History
Date Published2018/04/19
UniversityUniversity of Essex
CityEssex, UK

This thesis examines the construction of frames of Second World War memory in the post-occupation Channel Islands, and considers the impact of gender on both this memory-making process and the resulting popular representations of their shared past. It first explores the gendered tensions and fractures of the occupation years, and their role in the construction of this usable past. The occupation will be shown to have directly challenged the traditional gendered expectations of British wartime conduct (a key tenet of Islander identity), particularly regarding martial masculinity and feminine virtue. These tensions and fractures were particularly acute in the Channel Islands, as they were the only British territory to be occupied by German forces during the Second World War, having been demilitarised prior to the invasion of 1940. The war memories that were popularly adopted by the Islander communities after the war were, therefore, rooted in these early tensions and fractures, as they sought out retribution, closure, and unity, along with a connection to the desirable British war memory and the image of the victorious soldier hero. This thesis examines how this traumatic period has been built into a necessary and powerful founding myth in the Channel Islands, through the gendered sharing of war stories and rituals, as well as the reclaiming of contested spaces and objects to the present day. This analysis of the war memory of these small Islander communities will inform wider understanding of how gendered wartime anxieties might have similarly impacted the construction of war memory within other previously occupied nations across Europe. It also offers an important insight into the role of gender in the subsequent dissemination, disruption and stabilisation of war stories through generations, particularly within small communities recovering from the trauma of war. [author]

Entry by GWC Assistants / Work by GWC Assistants : 

Type of Literature:

Time Period: