before November 15, 2011
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CALL FOR PAPERS
FEMALE AGENCY AND CIVIL SOCIETY IN LATE MEDIEVAL, EARLY MODERN AND
European Association for Urban History, 11th International Conference on
Urban History, 29 August-1 September 2012, Prague, Czech Republic
The diversity of clubs, associations, brotherhoods and guilds that
together formed civil society, is ascribed an important role in the
molding of early modern social and political culture. As a result, among
other things, of a broadening of the scope of civil society-research to
include late medieval and early modern religious brotherhoods and poor
relief schemes, recent scholars have moreover shown that women were
active members of urban associational life. On the whole, however,
historical interest in civil society is not reflected in scholarly
attention to the participation of female actors – notwithstanding the
intricate relationship of civil society with the private sphere of the
family. All too often historical research on civil society is inclined
to focus exclusively on formal (generally institutional) social networks
and the (male) public sphere.
This session starts from the assumption that late medieval, early modern
and nineteenth century (urban) civil society cannot be understood
without fully taking female networks into account.
It will examine 1) how civil society transformed as a result of changing
positions of women in the household (both economically and culturally)
and 2) how women’s agency was affected by their role in public life.
Possible perspectives include:
- [inclusion and exclusion] To what kind of public associations did
female actors have access? What role did family ties, neighborhood
relationships and bonds of friendship play in their admittance? Can
marriage for instance be conceived of as a kind of gateway for female
actors to formal networks?
- [female agency] What did membership mean for female agency in both
public life and the private sphere of family and household? Was there a
relationship between economic change (female position on the labour
market, ‘industrious revolution’, etc.) and the evolution of female
participation in civil society?
- [social participation and role] What social and institutional
activities did female groups engage in? In what sense and to what extent
were female actors included or excluded from collective activities and
boards? Did their collective devotional, charitable or philanthropic
work arise out of contemporary gendered expectations about women’s
‘proper’ social role, or did they transgress these?
- [formal versus informal networks] How were formal and informal
networks intertwined (or not)? Did membership of guilds and
confraternities and informal networks overlap? Can we trace changes in
the mutual importance of these networks for female actors over time?
- [evolution] Did women’s groups face different challenges from those of
their male counterparts? Did they evolve differently as a result of
interaction with political and ecclesiastical authorities or with other
If you are interested in participating, please submit your paper
proposal (max. 800 words) on line (www.eauh2012.com/sessions/call-for-papers-proposals/), before November 15, 2011. Questions about the content can be sent by mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
We are looking forward to receiving your interesting proposals.