World War Two, Second World War, SOE, women's history, women of colour


This article explores the experiences of women of colour in the British Army during the Second World War, and the influences of race and gender on their work, focusing specifically on the experiences of British-Indian SOE agent Noor Inayat Khan. Inayat Khan’s experiences in training and fieldwork are analyzed based on her relationship with superiors and colleagues, taking into account their racial and gender-based biases, as well as Inayat Khan’s relationship to her own identity as a woman of colour in a largely white male environment. Ultimately, women within the British Army experienced a number of disadvantages due to prevalent misogynistic beliefs of the time, and as a woman of colour Inayat Khan additionally navigated the difficulties that came with commonplace racism. However, these hardships intersected with the advantages Inayat Khan and other female SOE agents were able to acquire from their unique identities. Throughout this article the intersection of these hardships and advantages is explored to determine their direct influence on Inayat Khan’s ability to carry out her work.

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