Enloe, "Nationalism and Masculinity"


Cyntia Enloe maps out colonial constructions of nation and gender, arguing that it is necessary to understand these constructions (and the histories of conquest), if we are to understand how gender is mobilized in nationalist movements.

Media, including postcards, photographs and nostalgic Hollywood cinema, are key parts of this construction.

1. What were some of the racialized and gendered meanings behind colonial constructions of masculinity?

2. How did colonial postcards reflect as well as participate in the construction of colonial masculinity? More particularly, how did images of women from colonized areas participate in the construction of colonial masculinity?

3. What does Enloe mean by Hollywood nostalgia? How has Hollywood film participated in these constructions? Can you think of any examples of the kind of colonial nostalgia that Enloe mentions? What do you think are its implications?

4. What do colonial constructions of gender render invisible?

5. Why, for Enloe, are these constructions necessary for understanding anti-colonial nationalist movements?

6. How do you think postcards operate in today's media culture? Do you see exoticism in tourist postcards today? If so, how does exoticism work in postcards today? Have you seen legacies of the images that Enloe mentions?

7. Are there ways in which contemporary postcards (or other travel media) communicate meaning and participate in the reproduction of power relations--whether gendered, racialized, or linked to national identity, for example?

8. Do you think this plays a role in the way gender within national movements is constructed and mobilized?

9. Do postcards today participate in the production of gendered forms of nationalism? If so, how? If not, what do you see as differences?


After reading the article "Nationalism and Masculinity," I was reminded of the treatment of women back them. They had no rights, and most of the time were treated as objects rather than people. Something in the reading that stuck out to me and had me question its effectiveness was the use of the veil in traditional muslim cultures and nationalism. I don't quite understand how and why this would have anything to do with the Nationalism movement. And why it only applied to the women, not the men. Nationalism today, where is it, and how powerful is it? What are some common examples of where nationalism strives strongly? Is nationalism different for different genders?

I think that most contemporary tourism imagery is exoticized. Without exoticism, the media (post cards, advertising, travel books, etc) has a hard time drawing interest. Contemporary examples may communicate power differently though. I think that in Enloe's examples of the interest or meaning was power, and masculine power. That by photographing women in sexually suggestive situations expressed the control that the colonizers had over not only the women, but the men in these colonized societies that have control over the women. By exploiting the women of a culture, colonizers can exhibit control of the men. I think in some tourism imagery, we see a post-colonization expression of power. Images from National Geographic's expeditions often idealize the economic benefits of the tourism industry, by showing us images of women with goods in marketplace environments. What are the connections between colonization, masculinity and tourism?

The dilemma that Muslim women have regarding not wearing the veil and acknowledging the colonists' opposition to wearing it at the expense of nationalism is intriguing. How likely is it that the observance of some religious traditions can be relaxed for the sake of nationalistic goals?

After reading Enloe's article on "Nationality and Masculinity" I was made more aware of the subordination and dismissal of women that has been going on in other parts of the world, and throughout history. It seems to me that these political and governmental systems should have changed dramatically by now in these feminists movements were taken more seriously in the nationalist agenda. My question then being, what were to happen to nationalism of countries like Sri Lanka and the Philippines, if the women's voice were more heard, and changes from the feminists were made?

Enloe's article on nationality and masculinity really had me thinking more about other countries and their lack of women's rights. It's easy to wonder if these countries would even be close to the same as they are now if women had more rights. I believe that incorporating women's rights would definitely change the way the media operates in these countries. My question is just how much?

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This page contains a single entry by zimme313 published on February 15, 2013 11:50 PM.

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