Economic structures and women’s investments in emerging proto-capitalist and capitalist economies
Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, Genders, and Sexualities
June 1-4, 2017 Hempstead,
Two scholars working on the late medieval Low Countries are seeking additional papers for a panel proposal to the 2017 Berkshire Conference on the History of Women. The panel engages debates about women’s investments in the economies of the premodern world. Although research on women’s investments in premodern economies remains limited, in recent years scholars have found that women’s participation was more extensive than previously thought, and have suggested that female market participation might have been integral to the economic development of some regions. In almost all premodern economies, there were patriarchal legal and social limitations on women’s inheritance rights, use of dowry and dower property, and access to education, guild apprenticeships, professions, and credit, supported by discourses. As those premodern economies began to engage in proto-capitalist and capitalist investment, production and market systems, women with capital to invest sometimes negotiated around those limitations. They mobilized inherited or earned wealth and talent to manage businesses, make investments in property, businesses and credit markets, and earn profit. While characterizing the precise significance of these patterns is contentious, most would agree that the balance between limitations and opportunities varies widely between regions (even quite small areas, such as towns, or village districts) and over time. This panel proposes to investigate how inheritance customs, law, economic systems, industries, social networks, and gender roles in specific areas affected women’s investment opportunities. We are interested in contrasting the late medieval Low Countries with a wide range of world regions during any time period. We are interpreting investment very broadly : credit markets, property markets, state and private annuities, or stock markets, farm sales, leases, or sharecropping arrangements, moneylending or pawnbroking, or marketselling. The panel also welcomes papers that examine the discourses surrounding women investors.
If you are interested in joining this panel, please send contact information and a 250-word abstract to Shennan Hutton (email@example.com) and Andrea Bardyn (firstname.lastname@example.org) by Dec. 15, 2015.