s1543 - Gender, Wealth, and Women's Economic Strategies in the Anglo-Atlantic World

Thursday, June 1, 2017: 2:00 PM-3:30 PM
BRESL 111 (Hofstra University)
Alexandra Shepard, Glasgow University

Session Abstract

This panel examines women’s relationship to property in the British Atlantic World during the long eighteenth century. Numerous recent works have demonstrated the centrality of women and gendered power relations to the development of household, local, and Atlantic economies. However, these works have largely treated different forms of wealth—land, personal possessions, financial obligations (credit), and the body—as distinct from one another. Many existing studies focus on only one form of wealth, while others single out one form of wealth as particularly accessible to women. Some argue, for instance, that women were more likely than men to prefer liquid forms of wealth such as personal property or credit instruments.

            Consisting of three papers, this panel destabilizes existing scholarly categories and interpretations by interrogating the gendering of economic life across multiple forms of wealth. First, Tawny Paul’s paper employs debtors’ schedules in order to chart the changing relationship between gender and forms of wealth in early modern England. Second, Sara Damiano’s paper examines the activities of female landlords in North American port cities, suggesting that these women’s enterprises involved the strategic use of both real estate and credit. Finally, Katherine Lasdow’s paper evaluates women’s ownership of waterfront property in Boston and their subsequent exclusion from corporate improvement initiatives. Collectively, these papers illuminate the ways in which access to wealth was gendered, and they investigate the extent to which women drew on a common complement of economic strategies as they invested in and moved wealth between various forms of property.

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