Surmounting the Barricades: Women in the Paris Commune

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November 2004



This book vividly evokes radical women's integral roles within France'srevolutionary civil war known as the Paris Commune. It demonstrates the breadth, depth, and impact of communard feminist socialisms far beyond the 1871 insurrection.Examining the period from the early 1860s through that century's end, Carolyn J.Eichner investigates how radical women developed critiques of gender, class, andreligious hierarchies in the immediate pre-Commune era, how these ideologies emergedas a plurality of feminist socialisms within the revolution, and how these variedpolitics subsequently affected fin-de-si cle gender and class relations. Shefocuses on three distinctly dissimilar revolutionary women leaders who exemplifymultiple competing and complementary feminist socialisms: Andre Leo, ElisabethDmitrieff, and Paule Mink. Leo theorized and educated through journalism andfiction, Dmitrieff organized institutional power for working-class women, and Minkagitated crowds to create an egalitarian socialist world. Each woman forged her ownpath to gender equality and social justice.


IntroductionPart I: Before1. The Actors and the Action 2. Politics and Ideas: Setting the Stage Part II: During3. Elisabeth Dmitrieff and the Union des femmes: Revolutionizing Women's Labor 4. Andre Leo and the Subversion of Gender: The Battle Over Women's Place 5. Paule Mink and the clubistes: Anti-Clericalism and Popular RevolutionPart III: After6. Dmitrieff and Leo in the Aftermath: Radicalizing History 7. Mink in the Aftermath: Radicalizing the FutureConclusion


Carolyn J. Eichner is a historian and Associate Professor of Women s Studies at the University of South Florida."


Conceived as a contribution to the history of French feminism, Carolyn Eichner's studyimplicitly links the feminists of the 1848 Revolution with those of the late nineteenthcentury by demonstrating the Paris Commune's central importance as a catalyst for oneimportant strand of feminist activism. This strand, identified by Eichner as 'feministsocialism', incorporated social and gender equality within a program to establish a 'socialrepublic'. Her study interweaves the history of socialist and feminist ideas with thebiographies of three very different women who espoused these ideas through their militantaction during the Commune: Elizabeth Dmitrieff, Andre Leo, and Paule Mink. Eichnerargues convincingly that these women have been little recognized by historians of theCommune, in part because of their predominant focus on the overpowering figure ofLouise Michel and on the 'incendiaries' who came to personify the insurrection itself. Toemphasize her own feminist approach, Eichner scatters short cameo portraits throughouther study of other remarkable women. Yet restoring the visibility of these Communardesas historical actors is not the only issue for Eichner. In her view, they must be recognizedfirst and foremost as feminists, revealing elements of continuity within feminism and alegacy for future struggles over women's suffrage at the century's end.Eichner identifies three distinct strands of feminist socialism among the three principalprotagonists. All were politically active in the Socialist International, several knew Marx.Elizabeth Dmitrieff was a young Russian who organized Parisian female workers into afederation of labour and defence associations. Her Union des femmes put women immediately to work through a utopian scheme of city--wide producer cooperatives. The second figure, Andre Leo, was a novelist and political essayist who sought to promote women's rights to secular education and thus expand their social options. For example, she urged Commune leaders t
EAN: 9780253217059
ISBN: 0253217059
Untertitel: Sprache: Englisch.
Erscheinungsdatum: November 2004
Seitenanzahl: 279 Seiten
Format: kartoniert
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