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Cohen, Philip N. (1996). Nationalism and Suffrage: Gender Struggle in Nation-Building America. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 21(3), 707-727.


The development of gender relations in the modern era is never free from the influence of nations and nationalism (McClintock 1993); nations reflect the impact of gender struggles as well. In this article I examine the white women's suffrage movement from 1848 to 1918 and conclude that a core within the suffrage leadership practiced a nationalism based on exclusive citizenship that was conditioned on whiteness. I see these politics as nationalist-embedded within the women's experience and conceptions of America-as well as "racist." This nationalism was realized through an alliance between white American women and men that subordinated gender conflict-even as suffrage leaders sought to improve their position as women. In the process, these leaders advanced the cause of women's suffrage while furthering the exclusion and oppression of nonwhite women and men. Aldon Morris observes that "social scientists have tended to underemphasize the political consciousness of dominant groups" (1992, 363). In this article I attempt to explain some of the unmarked political consciousness of the dominant American group-what I term its nationalism-and how gender struggles both affected and reflected that nationalism.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society


Cohen, Philip N.