Embracing Arms

Cultural Representation of Slavic and Balkan Women in War
$100.00 / €90.00 / £79.00
Publication date: 
360 pages, 73 illustrations (photos and film stills)

Discursive practices during war polarize and politicize gender: they normally require men to fulfill a single, overriding task—destroy the enemy—but impose a series of often contradictory expectations on women. The essays in the book establish links between political ideology, history, psychology, cultural studies, cinema, literature, and gender studies and addresses questions such as— what is the role of women in war or military conflicts beyond the well-studied victimization? Can the often contradictory expectations of women and their traditional roles be (re)thought and (re)constructed? How do cultural representations of women during war times reveal conflicting desires and poke holes in the ideological apparatus of the state and society?

Geographically, focuses on the USSR / Russia, Central Europe, and the Balkans; historically, on WWII; the secessionist war(s) in Chechnya (1994–96, 1999–); and the Bosnia / Croatia / Serbia war (1992–95).



Film and Television:

Elżbieta Ostrowska Invisible Deaths: Polish Cinema’s Representation of Women in World War II

Alexander Prokhorov She Defends His Motherland: The Myth of Mother Russia in Soviet Maternal Melodrama of the 1940s

Tatiana Mikhailova and The Subjectivity of a Female War Veteran in Larisa Shepit’ko’s Mark Lipovetsky Wings (1966)

Elena Prokhorova Gender(ed) Games: Romance, Slapstick, and Ideology in the Polish Television Series Four Tank Men and a Dog

Literature, graphics, song,:

Irina Sandomirskaja Rage, Body, and Power Talk in the City of Hunger: the Politics of Womanliness in Lidia Ginzburg’s Notes from the Siege of Leningrad

Helena Goscilo Graphic Womanhood under Fire

Robert Rothstein Songs of Women Warriors and Women Who Waited


Trina Mamoon “Black Widows”: Women as Political Combatants in the Chechen Conflict

Yana Hashamova War Rape: (Re)defining Motherhood, Fatherhood, and Nationhood

Jessica Wienhold-Brokish Dubravka Ugrešić’s War Museum: Approaching the “Point of Pain”

"Despite extensive female involvement in numerous war-related activities, the notion that war is a male endeavor with no place for women has long held ideological sway in many societies. Recently, a number of studies have critically analyzed the presumed masculinity of war. This collection represents a valuable contribution in this vein, demonstrating how eastern European cultural productions both upheld this masculine interpretation of war and countered it with gendered realities. The essays included were written primarily by scholars of Slavic and Balkan literature and culture and speak to an audience of educated readers familiar with the subjects engaged. The book also includes some beautiful and colorful images of many of the cultural representations discussed. Overall this book presents an important contribution to the field of women and war studies by offering a number of interesting new insights into how cultural productions preserved the notion of the masculinity of war... more