In her article, “Family Feuds: Gender, Nationalism and the Family”(1993), Anne McClintock, the Simone de Beauvoir Chair of English and Women’s Studies at the University of Wisconsin, analyzes women’s position in the societies establishing a link with the notions including, nation
, nationalism, race
. Her groundbreaking study is Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest (1995)
that serves as a good work for colonial and post-colonial studies. In her article “Race/ Class/ Gender Ideology in Guatemala: Modern and Anti-Modern Forms”, Carol Smith, who is a professor in the Anthropology Department of University of California, aims to analyze why women rather than men serve as the symbols of the ethnic groups in previously colonized places like Guatemala. In this sense, both articles attempt to evaluate women’s representation as markers of differences in the society.
McClintock successfully reviews the literature, which serves as a good start to convince the reader that nationalism is constituted from the very beginning as gendered. Referring to many authors, she justifies her own position and proves that in order to understand colonialism and post-colonialism, it is necessary to accept that the notions; race, gender
do not exist in isolation from each other, but they are closely linked in conflictual and contradictory ways. She puts emphasis on the family trope that has two components as social hierarchy and historical change. Thus, women’s subordination to men comes into scene again. As shown in the U.S. citizenship issue in Stevens’ article “On the Marriage Question”, we see that it is not only limited with U.S. but also in the history of European countries the marriage remains as a prerequisite to the citizenship of a woman. She points out that the relationship between race, gender
can be seen in the British colonization of South Africa, in which white middle class men were seen as the agency of national progress, whereas women were seen as the “anachronistic humans”. The difference between the black and white women was apparent that black women held the lowest position on the society. Also, McClintock puts much emphasis on the symbolic figures, fetishist objects like flags, uniforms, maps and so on, as well as the women’s symbolic position against “male fetish rituals of national spectacle”(1993: 71). In both Afrikaan and African nationalism, women’s political identity remained supportive and auxiliary and their political agency considered in the ideology of motherhood. McClintock concludes that a gendered division of national creation prevailed in the sense that men considered to be in political and economic realm whereas women remain in the moral and spiritual realm as the keepers of the tradition.
The nineteenth century was a period of colonial expansion and the colonies brought with them new definitions of masculinity and race with a subsequent impact on gender roles. Although both articles serve for the same purpose as attempting to show the women’s undermined position regarding the nationalist objectives of previously colonized countries as well as with the race, class and gender perceptions, Smith’s article remains more specifically focused.
Similarly, Smith also points out that the systems of race, class
became more interlinked and mutually reinforcing as a result of capitalism and the expansion of Western culture. Emphasizing the ideological links between race, gender
in the West with the Foucaldian term of “symbolics of blood” where blood remains as the main signifier of a social status in the society, she basically concentrates on the Guatemalan society which is colonized by the Spanish. Smith identifies three classes in Guatemala, including, Guatemalan elites, Guatemalan Ladinos and Maya communities. She proves that the perception of sexuality is class based and race is defined through culture rather than descent. Using both her own ethnographic work and also other anthropologists’, Smith proves that Maya women are freer than the other women in the Guatemalan society. Mayas were alienated from the society with their own culture specific to them and they maintained a seperatist, cultural and political stance against the Ladino nation who accept the hegemony of capitalism and corrupt regime of Guatemala which Ladinos controlled. However their revolutionary politics remained not enough in the sense that many of them were chased over from their homes with the consent of Ladinos. It is a well-known fact that people want to feel the sense of belonging to a wider community that finds itself in nation
although its definition remains controversial. It is important to take into consideration the relation between the concepts like, nation, national identity, gender, race
and the effects of nationalism
on the construction of gender roles. McClintock and Smith, both concentrate on the symbolic constructions of nation and how men and women in these national communities are affected from them. They both claim that the terms like nation
are highly gendered marking women as the symbolic values of nations. McClintock focuses on South Africa, giving the competing Afrikaner and African nationalisms as examples of how nationalism is genderized emphasizing the relation between nationalism and feminism, whereas Smith focuses on the impact of nationalism and colonialism on race, gender
perceptions in Guatemala. The fieldworks are very important to show the theory in practice, especially to understand the claims of both authors, and in this sense they prove everything they claim.