Gender and American Foreign Relations

Authored by: Molly M. Wood

The Routledge History of Gender, War, and the U.S. Military

Print publication date:  August  2017
Online publication date:  August  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138902985
eBook ISBN: 9781315697185
Adobe ISBN:


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On March 31, 2014, an op-ed appeared in the New York Times entitled, “The Things She Carried.” It begins this way: “The injury wasn’t new, and neither was the insult. Rebecca, a combat veteran of two tours of duty, had been waiting at the VA hospital for close to an hour when the office manager asked if she was there to pick up her husband. No, she said, fighting back her exasperation. She was there because of a spinal injury she sustained while fighting in Afghanistan.” The author of the piece, Cara Hoffman, observes that “stories about female veterans are nearly absent from our culture … their stories are simply not told in our literature, film and popular culture.” 1 Finding, telling, and analyzing the stories of women at war, and as veterans of war, is but one way in which historians who are interested in the intersections of gender, conflict, culture, war, diplomacy, American foreign relations, and international relations can engage in scholarly conversation. As Cornelia Dayton and Lisa Levenstein write in their 2012 state-of-the-field essay, “The Big Tent of Women’s and Gender History” in the Journal of American History, many scholars “who do not self-identify as women’s or gender historians deploy the field’s tool kit in their research.” 2 The gender tool-kit has been particularly well deployed by those who identify broadly as historians of American foreign relations or American international history.

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