(Re)gendering Memories of the Kosovo Liberation army: The Silenced Guerrilla of Women
AbstractAcross the world and throughout history, women have played an active part in combat (Enloe, 1989; and Enloe, 2000) and yet discourses of war tend to be male domi-nated. Is the forgotten warfare of women in combat due to the absence of social exchanges or a deliberate choice of silencing? This paper argues for the latter by investi-gating the silencing of female combatants using the ex-ample of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), and their subsequent lack of visibility and input in Kosovo’s na-tion-building project . Based on preliminary findings from an oral history project with female KLA combat-ants, this paper seeks to question why, after having oc-cupied such a key place in combat, women have not de-fended their history, their words, their experiences – their memories – of their time at the front. It then ex-plores the different forces behind the silencing of their roles as combatants and the types of narrative allowed in collective memory and remembering. Breaking the silence of women combatants encourages an engage-ment with various gender frameworks that are absent from nation building narratives, and an understanding of what women are cultural products of. This paper does not aim to find heroes or glorify the hegemonic war narratives of the KLA, but rather to draw particular attention to the role of women combatants in post-war nation-building projects, such as Kosovo, and the silenc-ing of that role. In doing so, such a project intends to reframe how we remember and write national histories, as well as helping to shed light on the cultural construc-tion of gendered identities in a post-war era.
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