Name: Natasha Stoyce
Thesis Title: Theatres of War: The Experiences of the Serbian Units of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals during the Great War (1914-1920).
This thesis is the first to explore the Scottish Women’s Hospitals’ Serbian Unit’s (SWHSU) gendered and medical experiences during the Great War. Active on the Western, Balkan and Eastern Fronts between January 1915 and April 1920, the Scottish Women's Hospitals (SWH) were unique because they were the first and only all-female medical organisation to have maintained functional hospitals on the frontlines of war for the duration of a conflict and at a time when the female doctor was still in her infancy.
Initially offering her medical skills up to the British Red Cross, the SWH's founder, Dr Elsie Inglis, was rejected by the British War Office on the basis of her sex with the words: 'my good lady, go home and sit still!' Not only were the frontlines forbidden to women by the British authorities, but the notion of female doctors treating adult male patients was still controversial, too. Dr Inglis was not, however, prepared to be still. Determined to contribute usefully to the war-effort, she turned next to the Allies in Belgium, France, and Serbia offering them medical support from all-female medical units. Thanks to their proximity to the frontlines (and a raging typhus epidemic in Serbia) all three countries were in too dire a situation to reject medical aid on the basis of the gender of the doctor providing it. All three, therefore, gratefully accepted Inglis' proposal and the SWH was born.
Of the SWH's 14 medical units, 12 worked alongside the Serbian Army at various locations throughout the war. During the course of their war-work, the SWHSU's members were to experience a typhus epidemic, the exodus of a country (Great Serbian Retreat), two military retreats, life under enemy occupation and P.O.W. status. Though still commemorated and greatly admired in Serbia to this day, beyond this Balkan state history has largely overlooked them.
This thesis will, therefore, be the first to examine these women and their work from both a medical and gendered perspective. It will consider the deliberate plurality of the SWHSU's 'Theatres of War,' suggesting that these women performed not only as medical professionals in operating theatres within volatile conflict zones, but in gender performative arenas, too, that, due to the Front’s shifting boundaries, were constantly in flux.
Supervisors and Institution(s):
Dr Claire Brock - University of Leicester
Dr Victoria Stewart - University of Leicester
Publications (please include full details with page nos. or web links):
Srpske Majke – Canada’s Forgotten Heroine: Josephine (Jo) Whitehead (1895-1964) http://www.ebritic.com/?p=703462
Srpske Majke – Prisoners of War: Margaret H Munro Kerr http://www.ebritic.com/?p=706765
- Article published in Serbian on the front page of Politika (Serbia's newspaper of record), Saturday 10th November 2018.
Scholarly / Public Engagement Activities:
Wikipedia page creation for Leslie Joy Whitehead (Jo Whitehead): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leslie_Joy_Whitehead
(featured on the Websites Wikipedia 'Did You Know' page on the 11/11/2018)
- Article published in Serbian on the front page of Politika (Serbia's newspaper of record)
Memorial Service for Women in Foreign Medical Missions - Presentation to public at Bishop Nikolaj Community Centre, London.
"'Lest we Forget': Forgotten Female Soldiers of the Balkan Front (1914-1918)"
Victorian Studies Spring Seminar Series.
"Where ‘women can help […]’: the early work of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals in Serbia during the Great War (1914-1916)."
Private audience with His Excellency, Denis Keefe, the British Ambassador to Serbia at His residence in Belgrade, Serbia.
Meeting with Her Excellency, Kati Csaba, the Canadian Ambassador to Serbia in Belgrade, Serbia.
30th - 31st August 2019:
'Legacies of the First World War Festival: Women and War', hosted by the AHRC WWI Engagement Centres, Glasgow, Scotland.
"The Legacy of the Scottish Women's Hospitals on the Balkan (Forgotten) Front: 1918 and Beyond"
10th - 13th September 2019:
International Society of First World War Studies "Legacies" Conference. Leeds, United Kingdom.
"'Lasting imprints': The Legacy of the Scottish Women's Hospitals' work for the Serbian Army (1914-1920)"
Other Research Interests:
- Gender; medical women: female soldiers; the First World War; the Balkans; history of medicine.
University email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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