In their close association with nationhood, women and their bodies come to represent nation, the body politic. This symbolic identification has led to justifications of violence, including violence against women in warfare, while permitting considerable control to be exerted over women's reproductive capacities (for example, denial of birth control and reproduction for national population “enlargement”).

Virtuous women-as-nation function as mythical signifiers of nationalist culture, and as delimiters of ‘“us” and “them.” While this symbolism may taint nationalist causes as inherently disempowering, many women have found fruitful engagement in nationalist movements, as they constitute an arena not only for nationalist, but also for feminist, activism. Indeed, public sphere agitation against colonial rule is often coextensive with agitation against gender inequality. This is rarely instantiated, though, as women ...

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