Warriors in Drag: Ottoman Prisoners of War Camp Theaters in Russia and Egypt, 1914-1921

Filed under Academic, Events, Newsletter on February 6, 2017.

During the First World War, nearly 250,000 Ottoman soldiers became prisoners of war. With much time on their hands, especially the officer prisoners turned to cultural activities, including theater, to bring some semblance of normality to their lives. This talk examines those theaters the Ottoman prisoners of war organized in captivity. In the homosocial environment of the prison camps, officers-turned-actors dressed in drag to perform women’s roles in different plays. Because the plays represented the home life and idealized traditional gender roles, female impersonation helped prisoners define, heal and reassert their masculinity in relation to women.

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