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Wed 18 March
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    11.00 - 13.00
    14.00 - 16.00
    16.30 - 18.30

Thu 19 March
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Fri 20 March
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Sat 21 March
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Wednesday 18 March 2020 08.30 - 10.30
Y-1 WOM01 Intimate Economic Networks: Women’s Commercial and Investment Agency in the Atlantic and Indian Ocean Worlds
Van Wijkplaats 2, 002
Network: Women and Gender Chair: Lucas Haasis
Organizer: Aske Brock Discussant: Lucas Haasis
Aske Brock : “India has been a Fortunate Place to our Relations”: Intimate Networks of the English East India Company, 1600-1800
In 1984, Olwen Hufton made the provocative statement that there was no East India Company for women. She pointed out that men regardless of standing in society had the possibility to seek employment in the EIC or the Navy, which meant men always had a chance to secure some sort ... (Show more)
In 1984, Olwen Hufton made the provocative statement that there was no East India Company for women. She pointed out that men regardless of standing in society had the possibility to seek employment in the EIC or the Navy, which meant men always had a chance to secure some sort of income. Women did not have the same opportunity. However, this overlooks a number of women who did work within the trading company. A few as actual employees (hotpressers, cleaners, coopers, dyers, petty victuallers) and some as shareholders. In her recent book, Silent Partners, Amy Froide found some indications of inclusive corporate languages showing some venues for female agency within the trading companies. For the majority of women, their connections to companies, however, were as relations to employees or as members of informal networks participating in more or less licit global trade. Based on a database consisting of more than 1,200 female petitioners to the English East India Company, 1600-1759, this paper examines how women worked with and against the company in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
The petitioners were amongst other things women who sought to their share of their husbands’ wages, concerning their investment, for permissions to ship goods overseas (or receive material sent to them), for passage to Asia, or, in a few cases for permission to work for the company. These varied interactions presents a unique opportunity for understanding how women navigated the company courts in London. This is turn makes it possible to appreciate how corporations and early global capitalism was shaped by the contribution of people working informally under the larger company umbrella. Early modern trading companies consisted of numerous overlapping networks, which were shaped by individuals’ participation in institutions, parishes, neighborhoods, business transactions and through kinship. Women were an integral, albeit often overlooked, part of the commercial networks within the company. The many different agents were all integral in shaping and maintaining durable ties across the world, which ultimately changed the global economy. (Show less)

Misha Ewen : ‘Women would be Necessary': Women's Networks in the Atlantic in the Early Seventeenth Century
This paper investigates how women in the English Atlantic world employed various strategies to increase their wealth. It focusses on case studies in Bermuda, Barbados, Virginia and Newfoundland, as well as England, to explore women’s participation in business and commerce that connected household work to local and transatlantic economies. When ... (Show more)
This paper investigates how women in the English Atlantic world employed various strategies to increase their wealth. It focusses on case studies in Bermuda, Barbados, Virginia and Newfoundland, as well as England, to explore women’s participation in business and commerce that connected household work to local and transatlantic economies. When the English established colonies in the New World, it was understood that ‘women would be necessary… for many respects’ (Newfoundland settler, 1621). Women kept household economies going, but they also participated in key colonial industries including the processing and marketing of cod in Newfoundland, the planting and curing of tobacco in Virginia and Bermuda, and the management of sugar plantations and enslaved labour in Barbados. Written records are mostly silent on the role of women in colonial economies. However, it is possible to reconstruct women’s economic activity and the networks that they established with family and business associates, at long distances, through a combination of documentary records like wills, inventories and court depositions, alongside the survival of physical archaeological evidence. For example, archaeologists in Newfoundland have found sherds of Portuguese ceramics embossed with the initials of Sara Kirke and Frances Hopkins, sisters who were merchants and plantation owners. They received the items as gifts from their European business associates and displayed them in their homes. Joining up the domestic, local and global contexts in this way provides a more complete understanding of women’s economic activity in the expanding Atlantic economy. (Show less)

Margaret Hunt : ’Investing’ in Long-distance Voyages: Plebeian Women’s Financial Links to Sailors in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-century England
During the early modern period sailors’ families relied heavily on the promise of men’s future wages and the same was true of sailors’ creditors and of maritime communities in general. However, people did not simply wait passively for the men to come home from a long voyage flush with ... (Show more)
During the early modern period sailors’ families relied heavily on the promise of men’s future wages and the same was true of sailors’ creditors and of maritime communities in general. However, people did not simply wait passively for the men to come home from a long voyage flush with money. Rather the deferred pay of sailor shaped a whole series of local institutions and investment practices on shore. For example, sailors often signed over their future pay in return for lodging, food, or cash loans. Wives or other relatives obtained powers of attorney linking them to a particular sailor (and that sailor’s future pay) and then used them to establish credit for themselves and their families. Moreover, women engaged in a variety of petty commercial practices that took advantage of their relatives’ access to exotic goods, such as tea or Indian textiles. Such practices were especially associated with long-distance voyages, to the New World, Africa and Asia, where both the risks and the potential payoffs were highest. Maritime communities were also rife with frauds involving sailors’ estates, and especially their pay tickets, usually involving identity theft, and that were perpetrated disproportionately by women. These diverse ‘investment’ practices, legal and illegal, were often organized around lines of kinship, but they also deployed other kinds of intimate ties, including fictive kinship ties based on links to a particular ship’s company or crew, debtor/creditor relationships, and the like. Sources on women’s financial linkages to sailors abound, but this paper relies most heavily on records of the High Court of Admiralty instance courts. These contain large numbers of cases of women suing, both in groups and as individuals, to recover goods and pay belonging to their relatives (by this time, usually dead relatives). These cases, in turn, reveal complex, transoceanic financial networks that, up until recently, sailed under the scholarly radar. (Show less)

Annika Raapke : She’s got the Goods - and she knows how to use them: Trickles of Goods and Flows of Power in Women’s Letters from the Eighteenth-century French Colonial World
Based on letters exchanged between the 18th century French Caribbean and French Indian Ocean colonies and the French metropolis, this paper explores various informal trading and exchange practices through which women imported or exported everything from confectionery to silk gloves to coffee; from carrot seedlings to perfume to sparkling multicoloured ... (Show more)
Based on letters exchanged between the 18th century French Caribbean and French Indian Ocean colonies and the French metropolis, this paper explores various informal trading and exchange practices through which women imported or exported everything from confectionery to silk gloves to coffee; from carrot seedlings to perfume to sparkling multicoloured sequins to sugar and hard cash. Letters written (or, sometimes, received) by women from various social backgrounds show the myriad ways in which women would use private imports or exports in their trans-oceanic connections. Goods could be sent across the sea as a means of establishing or maintaining power and authority within family structures – marketable colonial goods such as coffee and sugar, but also continental luxury items like the 250 individually wrapped chocolate balls (half of them filled with vanilla) that a Demoiselle Lalanne was asked to send Saint Domingue in 1756, for example, could be shipped to family members as a means of raising the family income; thus bolstering the sender’s position. These shipments could also function as management- or bargaining tools, especially when the items in question had been especially requested or when economic welfare depended on their reception. Goods could also be imported through personal connections as a creative and competitive business practice, allowing female traders to tap into fresh sources of information and cheaper supply – the four women who ran a shop selling fashionable goods in the colony of Martinique in 1780 clearly relied upon a constant “private” influx of fabrics, haberdashery, millinery, cosmetics and décor from France. This paper wants to investigate this constant, informal, sometimes seemingly haphazard trickle of goods which went on beyond the dealings of merchant companies and trade dynasties; and the flows of authority, influence, and power that accompanied the carrot seedlings, the chocolate balls, the sequins, and much more across the oceans. (Show less)



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