The multiple identities of early modern Dutch fishwives’

van den Heuvel, Danielle (2012) The multiple identities of early modern Dutch fishwives’. SIGNS: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 37 (3). pp. 587-594. ISSN 0097-9740. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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This contribution investigates the identities of Dutch fishwives in the early modern period. It shows that beneath the stereotypical portrayals of female fish sellers as rowdy, bossy and disorderly women in the margins of society lay a very different and much more diverse historic reality. The contribution studies the fish trade in eighteenth-century Amsterdam, a city that was one of the principal commercial centres in Northern Europe and had a highly specialized and well-developed system of fish markets. Based on an analysis of empirical data on one of the principal fish markets in the city, the central eel market, it reveals the participation in the fish trade of a group of women very different to the stereotypical fishwives: relatively well-off businesswomen with substantial trades and long-term careers. It shows that these women benefited from close links to the local fish sellers’ guild and closely-knit family networks which allowed them to combine motherhood with business, and secure their children a position in the trade. Even though rowdy fishwives may very well have been a part of the early modern Dutch urban society, this contribution argues that a great variety of fishwives operated in the markets and in the streets, and, more importantly, that the reason for certain fishwives to engage in disorderly behaviour may perhaps have been the product they sold, but rather the marginality of their position in the trade.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of History
Depositing User: Danielle van den Heuvel
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2012 10:32
Last Modified: 13 Nov 2014 16:12
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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