The book opens with a brief history of the region, surveys the relevant secondary literature, in particular on theories of nationalism and the relationship between gender and nation, and sets out the boundaries of the study. The emergence of normative bourgeois values and gender distinctions in the mid-nineteenth century paralleled the rise of European nation-states and was the direct result of nationalist movements. Men were to be soldiers and citizens; women were to be mothers and wives. Yet women's roles were far more complex: they became the protectors, reproducers as well as the embodiment of the nation. In Alsace, annexed by Germany in 1871, women became the objects of the hopes and fears of the German authorities seeking to nationalize the region. But how could women be successfully integrated into the national community? And would French nation-building projects after 1918 differ significantly?
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