As a historian of Latin America, my research on war focuses on four main areas: 1) the concrete impact of war on women, men, and families, gender roles and gender relations over time and in distinct cultures, 2) how wars have played out as physical and ideological battles on and over women’s bodies, and 3) the role of gendered metaphors and symbols as weapons in the war of words and images in the memory of war. At present, I am exploring these issues in the history of Mexico between 1810 and 1920.
I regularly teach related courses at the 100-level (War and Society, 1914-1945 - a course that offers valuable TA experience for graduate students) and 300-level (Witnessing World War II). I have also helped to supervise doctoral students who focus on War and Society as a research theme.
I am a Russian and Soviet historian and have worked extensively on war memory: both Soviet memory of the First World War and the memory of Russia’s 19th and 20th century wars in Putin’s Russia.
Akiko Takenaka works on the Japanese memories of the Asia-Pacific War. She is especially interested in the relationship between memory and space, as well as the transformations of memory over time.
We regularly offer a number of undergraduate courses that explore these themes across broad dimensions of time and space, including 100-level courses that provide our teaching assistants with ample experience in helping undergraduate students to think, read, talk, and write about them. We are also well equipped to offer graduate students the opportunity to assemble a (deliberately broad and comparative) thematic field in War and Memory in preparation for their qualifying exams, and to supervise doctoral dissertations in which issues of war and memory figure prominently.
Our themes and questions include:
- Citizenship and the “national community”: Who belongs to the wartime nation? Who is excluded? What forms do inclusion and exclusion take?
- Gender relations: How are gender roles and representations reinforced and/or subverted in wartime?
- Soldiers and civilians: How do the lines between them get drawn and redrawn in wartime, and to what ends and effects?
- War and radical “othering”: When is war “limited,” and when and why does it become “total” in ways that legitimate the targeting of non-combatants and notions of mass annihilation?
- War and private memory: How do people who have lived through the trauma of war endeavor to cope with that trauma in war’s wake? If war is another country, how does one return from it? How do the ethical dilemmas posed by the imperative to survive in extreme situations resolve and/or reassert themselves in peacetime?
- War and public memory: What is “collective memory”? Why does it so often focus on the commemoration of war? Why and how is the “collective memory” of war contested, and who is included in and excluded from the “collective”? Why and when did national states and other large assemblages of people start expressing retrospective regret for past injustices? Can there be such a thing as “restorative justice” for crimes committed generations ago?