Wedded to the Land?

Gender, Boundaries, and Nationalism in Crisis

Wedded to the Land?

Post-Contemporary Interventions

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Book Pages: 240 Illustrations: 10 b&w photographs Published: December 2001

Author: Mary N. Layoun

Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, Middle East Studies, Sociology > Migration Studies

In Wedded to the Land? Mary N. Layoun offers a critical commentary on the idea of nationalism in general and on specific attempts to formulate alternatives to the concept in particular. Narratives surrounding three geographically and temporally different national crises form the center of her study: Greek refugees’ displacement from Asia Minor into Greece in 1922, the 1974 right-wing Cypriot coup and subsequent Turkish invasion of Cyprus, and the Palestinian and PLO expulsion from Beirut following the Israeli invasion in 1982.
Drawing on readings of literature and of official documents and decrees, songs, poetry, cinema, public monuments, journalism, and conversations with exiles, refugees, and public officials, Layoun uses each historical incident as a means of highlighting a recurring trope within constructs of nationalism. The displacement of the Greek refugees in the 1920s calls into question the very idea of home, as well as the desire for ethnic homogeneity within nations. She reads the Cypriot coup and invasion as an illustration of the gendering of nation and how the notion of the inviolable woman came to represent sovereignity. In her third example she shows how the Palestinian and PLO expulsion from Beirut highlights the ambiguity of the borders upon which many manifestations of nationalism putatively depend. These chapters are preceded and introduced by a discussion of “culturing the nation” and closed by a consideration of citizenship and silence in which Layoun discusses rights ostensibly possessed by all members of a political community.
This book will be of interest to scholars engaged in cultural and critical theory, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean history, literary studies, political science, postcolonial studies, and gender studies.


Wedded to the Land? can be read with benefit at several levels. It is a fresh account of three pivotal moments of crisis: Greek-Turkish relations of the early 1920s, the Cyprus coup and Turkish invasion of 1974, and the displacement of the Palestinians after 1982. It offers insights based on literary and cultural analysis. . . . [Layoun’s] book is certainly evidence that looking at questions from a perspective of literature, gender, and culture can be productive and offer fresh and insightful dimensions.” — Mediterranean Quarterly

“This is a fine book that all scholars of critical discernment and ethical conscience need to read.” — Djelal Kadir , Comparative Literature Studies

"Wedded to the Land? is a tightly organized, elegantly written, and analytically nuanced study of the relationship between nationalism, culture, and gender. . . . Layoun’s lucid prose and attention to historical detail (along with a rich, interdisciplinary bibliography) make Wedded to the Land? easily accessible to and valuable for scholars of political science, anthropology, and history. Furthermore, the cohesion and unity that derive from Layoun’s combination of two chapters of theory and three chapters of case studies, make the book a remarkable resource for both research and teaching purposes. . . . [F]inely written."

— Elizabeth H. Prodromou , Middle East Journal

"[A] wonderful analysis of three case studies of gendered cultural responses to crises of nationalism. . . ." — Anastasia Karakasidou , American Historical Review

"[P]rofound . . . . [A] fresh approach. . . . Layoun’s elaborated readings of the texts she has chosen are admirably attuned to the whispered implications of narrative detail in closely historicized moments of cultural production."

— Marilyn Booth , H-Net Reviews

"Layoun’s presentation of the political background to the crisis is nuanced and impressively rich. . . ." — Melani McAlister , American Literary History

"Mary Layoun raises the stakes of the links between gender and nationalism. . . . That Wedded to the Land? is able to traverse accepted borders of nations and genders, construct contested narratives of nationalisms and genders, and raise the possibilities of alternatives to nations and nationalisms is undoubtedly what makes this a noteworthy contribution." — Jyoti Puri, Signs

"Mary Layoun’s Wedded to the Land? is an interesting addition to the literature on gender and citizenship. . . . A valuable contribution."
  — Patricia K. Wood , Gender, Place & Culture

"The cultures of the nation and of nationalism are the timely topics of Mary Layoun's compelling book. . . . This is a fine book that all scholars of critical discernment and ethical conscience need to read." — Djelal Kadir , Comparative Literature Studies

“An insightful analysis of a truly impressive array of literary, cinematic, archival, and ethnographic materials.” — Ted Swedenburg, coeditor of Displacement, Diaspora, and Geographies of Identity

“This rigorous and admirable study contributes to a new understanding of the discussion of nationalism vis a vis cultural production and politics. It is a model for the kind of work we need to see more of—engaged, erudite, considered, and full of historic detail and nuanced analysis.” — Caren Kaplan, author of Questions of Travel: Postmodern Discourses of Displacement


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Mary N. Layoun is Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She is the author of Travels of a Genre: Ideology and the Modern Novel.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Introduction: Culturing the Nation

1. National Homogeneity and Population Exchanges: Who Belongs Where?—
Greece 1922

2. The Gendered Purity of the Nation: Sovereignty and Its Violation, or, Rape by Any Other Name—Cyprus, 1974

3. Between Here and There: National Community from the Inside Out and the Outside In—Palestine, 1982

4. Thinking Citizens Again: Culture, Gender, and the Silences of the (Never Quite) Nation-State




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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2545-1 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2507-9
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