Skip to main content

Unsung heroism?: showbusiness and social action in Britain’s military wives choir(s)

Baker, Catherine


Profile Image

Dr Catherine Baker
Research Coordinator for History and Senior Lecturer in 20th Century History


Veronica Kitchen

Jennifer G. Mathers


In 2011, the BBC documentary The Choir visited military bases in Devon to film with wives and partners of British servicemen who had been deployed to Afghanistan. Amid a growing convergence between popular entertainment, popular militarism, and ‘Remembrance’ culture, The Choir’s ‘military wives’ series created a national-level ‘Military Wives Choir’ that won recording contracts and appeared at militarised commemorative events, as well as the formation of a less-lauded grassroots network of ‘military wives choirs’, which sought to provide much-needed social and emotional support to ‘military wives’ and other women on whose emotional labour the British military depends to sustain its troops’ operational effectiveness. The chapter argues that, at a time when the British military’s increasing efforts to appear gender-equitable invited a (contested and partial) regendering of military heroism to include women’s participation on the battlefield, the Choir(s) reinscribed more traditional notions of women’s role in war into UK popular culture, while media framing suggested that wives’ heroism lay in stoically suppressing emotion to keep families strong. However, the grassroots choirs’ everyday social and interpersonal functions, embedded in base communities’ material spaces, offered their members solace, solidarity, and agency beneath the radar of mass-media discourses of heroism.

Publication Date Nov 7, 2018
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Pages 122-146
Book Title Heroism and Global Politics
Chapter Number 6
ISBN 9781138313118
APA6 Citation Baker, C. (2018). Unsung heroism?: showbusiness and social action in Britain’s military wives choir(s). In V. Kitchen, & J. G. Mathers (Eds.), Heroism and Global Politics, 122-146. Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Publisher URL
Additional Information Volume editors: Veronica Kitchen and Jennifer G Mathers


You might also like

Downloadable Citations