Camp follower or counterinsurgent? Lady Templer and the forgotten wives

Hannah West

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British counterinsurgency thinking today remains strongly influenced by the Malaya Emergency (1948–1960) but little-known is the extensive women’s outreach program, pioneered by Lady Templer, involving the Women’s Institute and British Red Cross. Through discourse analysis of archival records, this article identifies four discourses characterizing British women’s participation, used, at the time, to make acceptable their presence whilst distancing them from the counterinsurgency campaign. By exploring how women’s presence has been negotiated and marginalized, I will reveal the blurred boundaries of counterinsurgency, questioning how the role of the counterinsurgent is constructed and sustained over time and for what purpose.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1138-1162
Number of pages25
JournalSmall Wars and Insurgencies
Issue number7
Early online date18 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) [159400979]. I would like to thank Dr Oliver Walton, Dr Sarah Bulmer, Dr Alice Cree and the anonymous reviewers for their really helpful comments on earlier versions of this article. I would also like to thank the Templer family and the Brunner family for kindly sharing their private archives.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Malaya
  • counterinsurgency
  • critical military studies
  • women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


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