Women in the British Army: War and the Gentle Sex, 1907-1948 (London: Routledge, 2006)
This 90,000 word monograph is the most recent and fully realised result of a lengthy engagement in my research of the links between war and gender. The initial idea for this project grew out of my DPhil research at the University of Sussex in the early 1990s. This research focused on the relationship between war, gender, memory and national identity in contemporary Britain, and as part of this project I became interested in the ways in which the military, not only in Britain but across the vast majority of contemporary cultures, is so strongly linked with masculinity, and serves as a means of naturalising constructed gender identities. Women in the British Army is the result of my attempts to unpick this relationship through a site specific case study: the relationship of women to the British Army in the first half of the Twentieth century.
My book proposal on this theme was accepted by Routledge in 1998 and my ideas were developed through a number of papers examining various aspects of the topic, at conferences and seminars both in Britain, such as the paper given at the Institute for Contemporary History Annual Conference in 2002 and for the University of Sussex Work in Progress History Seminar Series in 2004 and abroad, in history seminars at the Macquarie University, Sydney in 2003 and at the Borderlands Conference held at the University of Massachussetts, Amherst, in 2001 and at the Popular Culture Conference in San Antonio in 2003.
My research for Women and the British Army was supported by an AHRC Research Leave Award for 2004-2005 which enabled me to finish the initial archival research and to write up the results. Two strands of my current research continue to build on the work undertaken for this project. In 2006 I was awarded a British Academy Small Research Grant which enabled me to undertake research in Britain and Australia, examining the emigration of ex-Servicewomen to Australia at the end of the First World War. I have given research papers on this project in Australia and at the Social History Society Annual Conference in Britain in 2007, and am in the process of writing this material up as a Journal article. The second strand of my research with clear links to this project is my ongoing research into the role and reception of women working on Anti Aircraft sites in Britain during the Second World War. I am continuing to research this area with the aim of an eventual Journal article, and have been invited to present papers on this subject at the North American Conference for British Studies in 2007 and the Bi-Annual Berkshire Conference for Women Historians to be held in Minneapolis in 2008.