Magazine article Herizons

WORKING MEMORY: Women and Work in World War II

Magazine article Herizons

WORKING MEMORY: Women and Work in World War II

Article excerpt


Women and Work in World War II


Wilfrid Laurier University Press


Edited non-fiction collections often don't get their due. Like volumes of short stories, they often tease rather than satisfy.

Once in a while, however, their diversity inspires and intrigues. This is true of Working Memory, which covers a vast territory of autobiographical and biographical material on the Second World War. Most contributions are preoccupied with the conflict in Europe, but individual chapters also consider Australian, West Indian, Canadian and American stories. (Asia and Africa are missing.) The editors supply a lively and informative introduction that deftly sets the theoretical stage for the complexity thatfollows.

Although regularly overridden by war's commonplace masculinization, women's work emerges as ultimately diverse: "the labour of survival, resistance, or collaboration, or the labour of recording, representing, and/ or memorializing." Survivors, victims, heroines and even villains (in the case of a concentration camp guard, sensitively handled in "Resisting Holocaust Memory" by Marlene Kadar) populate the pages. Almost all are distinguished by authors' emphasis on their agency.

Since every reader will have favourites, and this is necessarily a brief review, I highlight two of mine. First, I'd single out James D. Stone's wonderful "These Dutch Girls Are Wizard!: The Dutch Resistance as Matriarchy in One of Our Aircraft is Missing. …

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