Gender, Race, Militarism and Remembrance: The Everyday Geopolitics of the Poppy
Basham, Victoria M.
Gender, Place and Culture: a journal of feminist geography
Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Reason for embargo
This paper offers a feminist analysis of how British military violence and war are, in part, made possible through everyday embodied and emotional practices of remembrance and forgetting. Focusing on recent iterations of the Royal British Legion’s Annual Poppy Appeal, I explore how the emotionality, and gendered and racial politics of collective mourning provide opportunities for the emergence of “communities of feeling”, through which differently gendered and racialised individuals can find their “place” in the national story. I aim to show that in relying on such gendered and racial logics of emotion, the Poppy Appeal invites communities of feeling to remember military sacrifice, whilst forgetting the violence and bloodiness of actual warfare. In so doing, the poppy serves to reinstitute war as an activity in which masculinised, muscular ‘protectors’ necessarily make sacrifices for the feminised ‘protected’. The poppy is thus not only a site for examining the everyday politics of contemporary collective mourning, but its emotional, gendered and racialised foundations and how these work together to animate the geopolitics of war.