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Contemporary gendered nationalism: reflections from the past

Maia Piermattei

International Relations & Sociology


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Ever since the rise of the nation-state, the concept of nationalism has been represented as a gendered one. Nationalism is an ever-existing social construct perpetrated through power relations and institutional practices, which sustain gender inequality reflecting the social structures they have developed within. This project investigates the interplay between masculinity and nationhood through a feminist lens, which helps us gain insight into the gendered history of nationalism and contemporary politics. The presentation will set out from a sociolinguistic perspective, tracing back nationalistic discourse to gender dichotomies rooted in our past which have survived to this day: the way we speak is still imbued with gendered concepts, constructing a narrative of male superiority in our collective imagination. Some historical examples will bear witness to the instrumentalisation of gender bias in modern history, focusing on twentieth-century authoritarian regimes and war propaganda. Likewise, gender-biased language is leveraged upon in modern-day nationalisms, emerging clearly from the far-right rhetoric which has recently polarised the political debate in many European countries.

Although divisive notions of nationalism were more explicit in the past, they still permeate our daily lives at the present day. Acknowledging and challenging the repercussions of gender bias is key to a more inclusive political scene and a fairer society where all voices are equally heard.


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