Working women in pre-industrial Europe. Perspectives on the gendering


Leuven, 14-15 November 2019

Scholars have long been debating whether a decline in women’s economic agency took place from the Late Medieval or Early Modern period onwards and what its chronology looked like. Furthermore, historians have argued for a difference in women’s economic opportunities between southern and north-western Europe. Divergent juridical and demographic structures supposedly gave northern women more possibilities for agency than southern women. However, several case studies have shown deviations from these two models. This workshop aims to bring together scholars working on gender and work to compare different regions of Europe and various labour types, spanning both the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period. In doing so, this workshop wants to discuss what factors shaped women’s work and wants to further the debate on women’s positions in urban labour markets, the impact of craft guilds, and the importance of gender on the informal markets. We invite papers on women’s economic possibilities and especially encourage proposals that include geographical and chronological comparisons and/or compare different types of work.

Themes may include, but are not limited to:

  • Geographical and diachronic comparisons of women’s work
  • The domestic production unit in urban economies
  • The gendering of urban economic space
  • Women’s presence on the informal markets and in craft guilds
  • Methodological papers and reflections on (changing) definitions of work, economic agency, informal markets, family economies in a medieval and early modern context.

The workshop will include papers from Prof. Anne Montenach (University of Aix-Marseille), Prof. Ariadne Schmidt (University of Leiden), and Prof. Danielle van den Heuvel (University of Amsterdam).

The language of communication during the workshop will be English. Proposals for 20-minute presentations should be sent to Nena Vandeweerdt ([email protected]) by 15 April 2019. Please include an abstract of max. 400 words, 4 keywords, and a short cv (max. 1 page). The participants will be notified by 15 May 2019.

Organisation: Nena Vandeweerdt and Heleen Wyffels (KU Leuven)

Scientific comittee: Prof. Violet Soen (KU Leuven), Prof. Jelle Haemers (KU Leuven), Prof. Jesús Ángel Solórzano Telechea (Universidad de Cantabria)º

Tuesday 26 February 2019 - Monday 15 April 2019