Current Institutional Affiliation
Professor, Sociology, Central European University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2004
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Sociology, New York University (NYU)
To Father or to Fight? Mass Conscription and the Politics of Masculine Citizenship, France, 1913-1939, and the United States, 1917-1944.

This project examines national debates regarding military conscription of fathers in France, 1913-1939, and the US, 1917-1944, in order to illuminate the contentious process through which masculine citizenship has been defined. While mass conscription is commonly viewed as fundamental to modem citizenship, debates deliberating between fathering versus soldiering reveal that powerful ideologies emphasizing men's paternal roles can pose a serious challenge to the deep-rooted obligation of military service. This project thus traces how masculine citizenship was defined in such a way that France determined that fathers were to serve as soldiers like all male citizens, whereas the US determined that fathers could be deferred from "the draft." Feminist accounts of citizenship have not yet paid close attention to the construction of masculine citizenship, implicitly presuming that the modem state has consistently supported males as breadwinners. Yet mass conscription of men into the French and US military challenged the otherwise entrenched benefits that male citizens received as breadwinning heads of families. Debates regarding conscripting fathers reveal that male citizens have not been consistently supported as breadwinners, nor have they necessarily been conscripted into the military as the ultimate duty to state. In analyzing how France supported soldiering over fathering, and how the US supported fathering over soldiering, this dissertation thus exposes the contentious, divergent, and contradictory process of defining masculine citizenship. I use a comparative-historical methodology, and will examine primary archival documents of national debates and conscription policy. Since little note has been made of these debates thus far, it is imperative to conduct primary research. For research in France, I will examine documents of Parliamentary debates, newspapers, publications of involved social movements and their leaders, military planning commissions, manpower commissions, and legislation enacted. Accordingly, I wish to embark on nine-months' research in archives in, and around, Paris, France.