Wednesday 4 April 2018 11.00 - 13.00L-2 - WOM01 : Formal and Informal Networks of Migrant Women and Men in Settlement Process (14th-19th Centuries)
PFC/02/013 Sir Peter Froggatt Centre
Despite the increasing emphasis on gender in migration history, encouraged by the precise delineation of the main questions surrounding the mutual effects of gender and migration (Green, in Gabaccia and Maynes, 2013), only a handful of historical studies have attempted to examine gender reconfigurations in migration contexts at a micro ... (Show more)
Despite the increasing emphasis on gender in migration history, encouraged by the precise delineation of the main questions surrounding the mutual effects of gender and migration (Green, in Gabaccia and Maynes, 2013), only a handful of historical studies have attempted to examine gender reconfigurations in migration contexts at a micro level. This paper contributes to remedying this historiographical deficit by engaging in a intersectional micro-analysis of gender dynamics in the Plaine-Saint-Denis, a working-class, all-migrant suburb of Paris, at the very end of the nineteenth century.
For the workers and shopkeepers from Paris, labourers from Brittany, glassworkers from the newly German Alsace-Lorraine, and others from even farther afield –Hainaut, Bavaria, Piedmont, the southern Appenines, Old Castille– who came to live in the “Plaine” for a while or for good, gender representations underwent significant recompositions along the way, in close connection with the evolution of other categorial systems of difference such as ethnicity, race, class, religion and age. Looking closely at individual itineraries of migrant men and women not only complexifies our understanding of the role gender played in these people’s mobility decisions, but also how gender was key in micro “boundary making” processes (Wimmer, 2013) through which men and women could forge new solidarities and antagonisms in their new neighbourhood.
In particular, this paper illustrates that even before the Great War reshuffled socio-cultural expectations about masculinity and femininity, women wielded considerably more agency than this constrained setting would have seemed to allow, by forging and tapping into micro-networks that would alternatively reinforce or counterbalance other differentiation dynamics. Paradoxically, the spaces of solidarity and autonomy that some women and girls managed to carve out for themselves, albeit within the limits imposed by the social norms of the era, contrasted with hyper-masculine environments –at the factory, at the bar, on the street– by which boys and men were oftentimes more entrapped than empowered. From this inquiry emerges a narrative, grounded on individual stories derived from a wide wariety of archival and oral sources, in which new light is shed on gender as one of many contingent practices of differentiation. (Show less)
Charmian Mansell : ‘I canne staye away no Longer’: Gendered Patterns of Servant Migration in the Church Court Depositions of Early Modern England
In 1586, servant Joanne Hull was cast out of the city of Exeter and transported around 45 kilometres to Taunton in Somerset by her master after she became pregnant with his child. Returning to Exeter one year later, Joanne told her former neighbour Roger Courtes ‘I have Lackt a ... (Show more)
In 1586, servant Joanne Hull was cast out of the city of Exeter and transported around 45 kilometres to Taunton in Somerset by her master after she became pregnant with his child. Returning to Exeter one year later, Joanne told her former neighbour Roger Courtes ‘I have Lackt a yere and more to save one man’s honesty. I canne staye away no Longer for I have neither hose nor shoes and I will complayn of him to the Justices’.
Pregnant unmarried servants were frequently ejected from the parishes in which they served in early modern England, their illegitimate children presenting an economic and social threat to the parish. More broadly, servants have long been identified as the most migratory occupational group in early modern society. Servants are understood to be migratory members of the work force, their connections with the communities in which they lived and served temporary and fleeting. In her study of servants in husbandry, Ann Kussmaul found that servants were typically employed on an annual basis and that servant turnover was high in early modern England. Yet Joanne Hull’s story, recorded in the deposition of witness Roger Courtes who appeared before the Exeter church court, reveals a lasting social, economic and institutional connection with the place in which she had served. Even the most mobile of this occupational group were not necessarily a transient or fleeting presence in the early modern community; many continued to tap into and rely upon networks of support once they had left.
Using depositional evidence from church courts between 1550 and 1650, this paper traces the migration paths of male and female servants, exploring the routes by which they found employment and established social and economic networks in the parishes in which they served. The paper explores the impact of gendered patterns of work and sociability in service on integration into new communities. In particular, it demonstrates a common misconception that female service took place solely within the domestic sphere and reveals the limitations this has on our understanding of the dynamics and types of informal networks that they had access to and participated in. The paper therefore inserts servants into our understandings and conceptions of community life, while also considering the dynamics of gender on their experiences of integration in the early modern parish. (Show less)
Thomas Verbruggen : The Strategies of Foreign Women and their Employers in the Belgian Domestic Service Labour Market (1850-1910)
Nineteenth-century Europe was characterised by rapid urbanization, innovations in transport and communication infrastructure, and societal change. Several scholars have already focussed on the impact of these changes on international migration within Europe on a macro level. They observed, among other things, a general increase of migration to cities (Lucassen and ... (Show more)
Nineteenth-century Europe was characterised by rapid urbanization, innovations in transport and communication infrastructure, and societal change. Several scholars have already focussed on the impact of these changes on international migration within Europe on a macro level. They observed, among other things, a general increase of migration to cities (Lucassen and Lucassen 2009) and an increasing proportion of women crossing national borders (Greefs and Winter 2016). On the meso level, a lot of studies have focussed on migrants who moved by using personal networks (chain migration). Female migrants in particular are often described as followers who depended almost exclusively on kinship ties for migration information and support because they lacked independency and access to formal networks. However, Lesger et al. have observed that a lot of (female) migrants ‘did not necessarily depend on personal contacts and social networks to migrate’ (Lesger et al. 2002, 49). They even claim that female domestic servants were often solitary migrants who relied exclusively on the ‘common knowledge’ that commercial cities offered many employment opportunities for them (Lesger et al. 2002, 32). Similarly, Moch and Tilly described female domestics already in 1985 as ‘individual migrants par excellence’ (Moch and Tilly 1985, 55). Placement agencies, newspaper advertisements, and later also philanthropic/confessional associations enabled these women without an extensive personal network to find a job in the city (McBride 1976; Piette 2000).
As such, migrant women had a variety of options to find a residence and employment as domestics in the city. Some migrated on their own and could either go from door-to-door to ask for a job, place an advertisement in a newspaper, or subscribe themselves at a placement agency or philanthropic/confessional association. Others followed the migration trajectories of people they knew and asked them for help to find a residence and employment. It is still unclear, however, what the impact of previous urban experiences, age, and the presence or absence of national or regional networks was on the type of strategies that women chose and equally important, on the results of these strategies.
This paper uses two approaches to address this issue. First, a selection of foreign female domestics who arrived in Antwerp and Brussels in 1850, 1880, and 1910 are searched for in the local foreigners’ files and the population registers to obtain information on their profile, migration trajectory, place of residence, employers, and colleagues. This approach already provides indications on the importance of previous urban experiences and the presence of national or regional networks. Second, newspaper advertisements, and the administration of lodging houses and philanthropic/confessional associations are analysed to identify by which domestics and employers they were used. By combining these two approaches, some conclusions will be drawn concerning the impact of certain macro developments on the individual trajectories of migrant women and their use of formal and informal networks. (Show less)