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Gender, Sex, and the Postnational DefenseMilitarism and Peacekeeping$
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Annica Kronsell

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199846061

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199846061.001.0001

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Mothers, Soldiers, and Nation in the ‘Neutral’ Defense

Mothers, Soldiers, and Nation in the ‘Neutral’ Defense

(p.19) Chapter 1 Mothers, Soldiers, and Nation in the ‘Neutral’ Defense
Gender, Sex, and the Postnational Defense

Annica Kronsell

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores how the national defense was founded on gendered ideas around nation making processes and notions of citizenship. It is exemplified with Swedish military and defense practice with a focus on the connection between the defense and the nation through military conscription and voluntary defense organizations. The nation was gendered and men were the “neutral soldiers” acting as protectors of the nation, in the name of a specific militarism associated with neutrality—women were “the beautiful souls” to be protected, defined outside conscription, and military practice. Women’s political agency was limited and commonly associated with motherhood. Any other role that women pursued posed a challenge to the defense organization. The “woman-in-arms” identity was shown to be particularly problematic. Sweden pursued a neutral foreign policy yet the national defense was influenced by militarism. This “neutral” militarism was widely dispersed throughout society, trickled down through the state via conscription and voluntary defense organizations and was connected to everyday tasks.

Keywords:   conscription, women’s agency, genered nation making, neutral militarism, voluntary defence organizations, motherhood

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