Gender, Everyday Violence, and Community in the Early Modern City of Bologna

Thursday, January 7, 2016: 3:50 PM
Room M101 (Atlanta Marriott Marquis)
Sanne Muurling, Leiden University
Gender, Everyday Violence and the Community in the Early Modern City of Bologna

Both as a physical site and as a social space the neighbourhood community is thought to have been of great importance for everyday transgressions, from seemingly banal insults to homicide. Moving beyond traditional distinctions between gendered spaces separating the domestic from the public, recent studies suggest the need to direct our attention to the neighbourhood as a semi-public space of sociability, conflict and mediation for both men and women, albeit in different ways. Despite its importance for the social history of crime, to this day not much is known about the role of the community in crime and its prosecution, or about the ways in which this was gendered in the early modern period. In what kind of social contexts did everyday violent transgressions take place? What roles did accomplices, bystanders or witnesses play in causing, aggravating, mediating or controlling these conflicts? And can we distinguish gender differences in the crime itself, its perception and its prosecution? This paper will examine gendered community interactions through violent transgressions as captured by the denunciations and processes in the criminal tribunal of early modern Bologna. By focussing on the social context of crime, it will shed light on the relationship between the scope of action of men and women and the community in which norms are affirmed, mediated and defied.