The article explores women’s economic agency in the «border economies» of Mediterranean ports and islands, focusing on the case of Stromboli, in the Sicilian Aeolian Archipelago, in the first half of the nineteenth century. The position of women in the public and the private sphere and the lack of relevant contemporary socio-professional categories makes it difficult to identify their activities, although they are crucial to the understanding of coastal societies. The paper stresses the importance of women’s full involvement in the typical pluriactivity of such communities, combining trade with agriculture and seafaring. In Stromboli, travelers’ reports, notarial and judicial sources show a number of intertwined activities: women toiled in the fields and went fishing, lent money and spun silk, processed agricultural produce and managed family businesses. They played a significant role also in the «shadow economy» of informal and/or illicit trades.
Parole chiave: Economia della frontiera; Economia informale; Lavoro delle donne; Sicilia
Keywords: Border economy; Informal economy; Women’s work; Sicily