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Women and Patriarchy in the Militant Separatist Groups of Western Europe and North America During the Long '68

Research presentation

University of Cambridge

The images and incidents associated with violent nationalism across history are inextricably linked to virulent masculinity. There is such a certainty in this point that historians and theorists of nationalism alike take for granted that men are the perpetrators of radical political violence.

This paper, which is part of a larger piece of on-going doctoral research, pushes back against this oversimplification of the relationship between men and nationalist violence. Focusing on the militant, pro-independence movements transpiring in Western Europe and North American between 1966 and 1972—a period which I believe was a unique moment in the arc of modern nationalism—it evaluates the roles men and women played and were allowed to play in separatist groups. It demonstrates how, despite espousing liberationist rhetoric, separatist groups during this period were extremely patriarchal in nature, and that their conceptions of gender dictated how they went about seeking independence.

Through its analysis of these groups, the paper acknowledges the precarious roles of women in nationalist movements, a topic largely ignored by the field, and disentangles the conflation of men and political violence by noting the particular definition of men and manhood endorsed by separatist groups.