Academic journal article Journal of International Affairs

Brutality and Desire: War and Sexuality in Europe's Twentieth Century

Academic journal article Journal of International Affairs

Brutality and Desire: War and Sexuality in Europe's Twentieth Century

Article excerpt

BRUTALITY AND DESIRE: WAR AND SEXUALITY IN EUROPE'S TWENTIETH CENTURY

Edited by Dagmar Herzog

(United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), 290 pages.

Although historical accounts of war in twentieth century Europe often acknowledge changes in gender roles, these accounts largely neglect the impact of wars on sexual expression. Brutality and Desire, a volume of essays and case studies edited by Dagmar Herzog, explores the different facets of sexual violence and the new opportunities to express sexual desire offered by European wars in the twentieth century.

The essays rigorously review state and military archives, personal reflections, and newspaper articles, and rely on interviews and a canon of existing scholarly work to demonstrate the prevalence and diverse functions of sexual violence as a wartime tactic and activity. The brutal crimes committed against women during the European genocides and periods of colonial oppression indicate that states and military bodies committed these crimes to terrorize communities, reinforce racial superiority, force assimilation, annihilate ethnic groups, and satisfy soldiers' sexual appetites.

Interestingly, Herzog's compilation moves beyond the narrative of war and sexual violence and reveals how circumstances created by war allow men' and women to push the boundaries of sexual expression and desire. …

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