From peace to development: a reconstitution of British women’s international politics, c. 1945 - 1975

Skelton, Sophie (2014). From peace to development: a reconstitution of British women’s international politics, c. 1945 - 1975. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.


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This thesis makes clear British women’s experiences of the international between 1945 and 1975. It analyses how international development came to feature at the centre of British women’s organisations’ international programme by the late 1950s.

The origins of this process date back to the immediate post-war years. Inspired by a new sense of duty and internationalism, British women embraced the new international institutions that formed after the War with a newfound sense of purpose. In the late 1940s, world peace was taken up by a broad spectrum of British women’s organisations as a potentially powerful means of bringing women together from diverse political, social and cultural backgrounds to co-operate on both national and international levels.

The failure of peace to unite women across social and political lines in the face of the ‘red scare’ in the early 1950s forced British women to look for an ‘apolitical’ means of promoting human relations. The UN technocratic approach positioned international development as the convenient space for British women to act out these new post-war international commitments. However, the results of this new international priority were informed directly by histories of imperial power, leaving assumptions about priorities and Western superiority uncontested until the 1980s.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of History and Cultures, Department of History
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
J Political Science > JC Political theory
J Political Science > JZ International relations


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