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Writing the web:
Letters from the women's peace movement

Margaretta Jolly

Twenty years after the founding of one of the most idealistic and long-running feminist anti-militarist campaigns, it is a good time to reflect on the Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp. Although Greenham Common was a movement of the 1980s, its controversial crossing of existing feminist and pacifist alignments shed light on the politics of gender, maternalism and the military that preceded it. In my paper I will look at the politics and culture of the camp through some letters that were written out of the campaign and its necessary travelling. These letters charted the camp's raison d'Ítre in protesting to local councillors, magistrates, military personnel and the media. But they also redrew the public political sphere as it was conventionally imagined, in intervening with personalised petitions, invitations for dialogue with 'ordinary' people and, eventually, in constructing an alternative community to that of the patriarchal nation state. As the links between camp and (original) home, newly met supporters and 'Greenham women everywhere', they undertook the politics of relationship in a campaign that increasingly understood this to be inseparable from its cause. In this, I will consider letters as an element of the distinctly aesthetic element of the protest, which also, in their more personal address, reveal the tensions and surprises in constructing 'the web'.

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