Women on the Move in the Early Modern World
World History Association 1
The vast majority of merchants, conquerors, slaves, and settlers who travelled great distances were men, as were most of those who moved shorter distances in many parts of the world. But women travelled and migrated as well--willingly, unwillingly, or some combination of these. As with every aspect of women’s existence, their movements have left fewer records than those of men, but scholars in a number of fields have begun using written, printed, and material sources to analyze their lives. This roundtable examines women who moved within, throughout, and between many different parts of the early modern world, and asks what commonalities and differences we might find in their experiences. It begins with the short-distance migration of a domestic servant in Japan, moves to women’s peninsular and transatlantic migration within the Iberian Atlantic, then examines the local and long-distance movements of Protestant women in Europe and the colonial world, and ends with the travels of an enslaved woman from Bengal across several of the world’s oceans. Each of the presentations thus includes one or more micro-histories as the participants ask themselves (and the audience) how these can contribute to a gendered analysis of travel and migration at the global scale.