Attraverso le città. Saggio introduttivo
Anna Badino, Ida Fazio and Fiorella Imprenti
Introduction. Across Cities: Gender Relations in Urban Contexts
The essay introduces the papers of this special issue, and discusses recent historiography studying urban contexts through an approach focused on gendered organization of space, and of gendering of social, political and economic relations in modern and contemporary cities. The use of cities as resources by women during the early modern period has contributed to reshaping some major aspects of labour history, of the history of institutions, power and citizenship. Studies on women’s social and geographical mobility have stressed new issues about the importance of multilocal networks linking rural and urban worlds and different material and symbolic spaces. “Modernity” is one of the strongest categories that have been used by historians, but also by contemporaries, in order to de ne life in the cities of XIX and XXth centuries. The article discusses how modernity could have been a stereotype, but also a real chance for women to challenge the xity of identities and social roles. Finally, the article focuses on the studies that have analysed the themes of work, city and geographical mobility during the contemporary period. Through the examples of some particularly effective and illuminating researches, we show the usefulness of adopting an interdisciplinary approach and we call for a more effective exchange between history and other social sciences.
Gender, Space and the Production of Difference in Early Modern Venice
Androniki Dialeti, Giorgos Plakotos
Gender, Space and the Production of Difference in Early Modern Venice
In the last decades scholarship has shown particular interest in the “geography of gender” in late medieval and early modern Venice. Historiography has investigated the interplay between norms and ideals, on the one hand, and practices, agency and experience on the other hand. It has debated the rigidity or porousness between “masculine” public and “feminine” private spheres and boundaries in terms of urban and gender imagery and agency. Finally it has successfully demonstrated the intersection of gender and urban geography in the operation of networks as far as work, family and locality are concerned. Our article seeks to contribute to this ongoing interest, especially as far as non-elite members of early modern Venetian society are concerned, by focusing on the multifarious dynamic between gender and space in the establishment of networks and mostly in the production of difference before the Venetian Inquisition. Dealing with individuals who testi ed in Inquisition hearings and trials we will detect their strategies, negotiation and conceptualization of “male” and “female” space. In this regard, our paper discusses the discursive formation of moral geography, male and female proper behaviour and misconduct and the norms of gender-speci c geography that governed it.
Towards a Topography of Women’s Violence (Rome, 1550-1630)
While the issue of violence committed by women represents one of the new frontiers of international historiography, studies have rarely been conducted on the forms, places and the signi cance of violence committed by women in an early modern Italian city. Based on a systematic investigation of criminal records from the Tribunale del governatore di Roma that shows that the majority (43%) of the crimes contested against women between 1550 and 1630 were crimes of a violent nature (murders, assaults, brawls, stabbings, poisonings, house-scornings, verbal abuse), the main purpose of the article is to illustrate the places where this kind of violence was perpetrated. Contrary to what one might have expected – a domestic setting for women’s violence – this study demonstrates that women committed acts of violence mainly in a public setting: in the streets, in the squares, from their windows, in courtyards, in churches, even in convents. These physical sites are complemented by an “immaterial architecture”, the night, the favourite time to attack their opponents. By examining some case studies this paper shows the active role played by women in sixteenth and seventeenth century Roman urban space, and argues, as suggested by Peter Burke, that interpersonal violence for women, just as it was for men, was a «code of communication», a «form of sociability», one of the tools at their disposal to negotiate, de ne and defend their social identity.
La valigia americana. Breve storia di Emma detta “la Bresci”
The American Suitcase
The con ict between family obligations and the desire to enter into a different social world shapes the life of Emma, an Italian young girl emigrated with her father at the end of the nineteenth century from a Piemontese village to the city of Paterson, near New York. The family’s strategy aimed at improving its social status, downgraded in Italy from technological changes in the local textile industry: the wages paid to Emma by the American silk factories were necessary, with father’s wages, to nance the education of her brothers in Italy and their future of social mobility. Migration encourages young girl’s expectations: the American city represents a promise of self-realization. But her dreams meet obstacles dif cult to be overcome. In her case the city does not help to build signi cant social relationships outside Italian silk workers’s narrow social circles. Her opportunities do not expand. The story of Emma, that ends with her return to native village, shows the interest in women’s studies to explore in depth the ambiguous nature of the city: for a young woman like Emma the city at the turn of the century appears to be at the same time a space of freedom and possibility and a place where gender- speci c social constraints can limit strongly the range of choices.
Industrial Homework and Gender Relations in a 1950s City. Notes on the Bolognese Case
Although industrial homework is not a new topic in Italian labour and women’s historiography, its impact on 1950s gender relations has not yet been fully analysed in a urban perspective. The article explores the spread of industrial homework in the 1950s and its effect on the Italian urban areas, focusing on the city of Bologna where female employment in manufacturing was especially high. The relationship between the Bolognese economic structure and the spread of homework in the 1950s is addressed together with the different aspects of the relationship between gender and homework, including the feminization of homeworkers, the gender relations within homeworkers’ family and the neighbourhood, the (un)gendered memories and representation of homeworkers. Furthermore, homeworkers’ material working condition are analysed along with forms of self-organization and the struggles they promoted to deal with those conditions.
The (Re-)Making of Masculinity in Europe 1910-1960