Invisible Revolutions: Women's Participation in the 1871 Paris Commune
AuthorStewart, Pamela Joan
Committee ChairClancy-Smith, Julia
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis dissertation interrogates gender as revealed in the lives of women in Paris from the declaration of a republic on 4 September 1870 through the violent demise of the Paris Commune on 28 May 1871. Centering gender at the analytical hub of public and private space exposes the disruption to these traditional categories, provided by the siege and Commune. This study argues against traditional histories of the Commune that have reduced women's visibility during the preceding months of the Franco-Prussian War and the four-and-one-half month siege of Paris. With the advent of the Commune on 18 March 1871, working women often continued their previously-acceptable activities of the siege, rather than suddenly asserting themselves as "wild-eyed viragoes" during the revolutionary Commune. To verify this, the first two chapters cover 4 September 1870 through the siege's conclusion on 28 January 1871; then, three chapters investigate women's Commune-era verbal assertions, political pressure tactics, and military presence. Combined, these chapters demonstrate that prioritizing the role of gender in the private and public lives of working women brings to life their substantive contributions to the radical reordering of socio-economic norms within the "working man's revolution" of the Paris Commune.Employing interdisciplinary theory, this work analyzes autobiographical experiences of Victorine Malenfant Rouchy and other women, as well as the production of siege- and Commune-era discourse more broadly. It argues against prior historians of the era who relied on particular, often incomplete, sets of documents for their conclusions, which have reduced women's significance to a small group of activists. Two recent works have contributed analyses of gendered representation and three women leaders, but have not assessed less prominent, sometimes anonymous, female residents of Paris who did not necessarily appear in conventional record sets. A range of documents therefore reveals women's contributions from the genesis of the Commune through its annihilation during its final, "Bloody Week," in which government troops specifically targeted women. Investigating the attention paid to women's bodies during that last week of May 1871, when somewhere near 30,000 people died, raises the issue of gendered violence against women, a topic that remains underanalyzed.