‘Waging war against the parasites’: critiquing women’s narrative identities through feminist ecocritical reflections on women and the Holocaust

Roseanna Ramsden*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

The existence of parasites and insects in Nazi internment centres during the Holocaust, and how it has latterly featured in the memoirs of women who survived, is largely overlooked by historians focused on anthropic and socio-political factors of the event. Yet, as this article illustrates, for many survivors life in these institutions is characterised, at least in its retelling, by turbulent relationships with parasitic creatures. This article explores, through critical reading and the lens of feminist ecocritical theory, how recurring patterns of entomological and parasitological imagery work in many women’s Holocaust testimonies to reinforce the authors’ identities as resistant, resilient survivors; how for women narrativising their ecological experiences, resistance and survival are often portrayed as reliant upon asserting traditional female identity. In so doing, this article works to allow us, using a non-traditional critical approach, to garner a deeper understanding of women’s accounts of incarceration and of the Holocaust more widely.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1162-1181
Number of pages20
JournalWomen's History Review
Volume30
Issue number7
Early online date15 Nov 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2021

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