Gender and Urban Space in Amsterdam 1600-1850

This project looks at pre-industrial Amsterdam, a rapidly-growing city at the core of the Dutch Republic. It was one of Europe’s larger cities at the time, and the largest city of the Low Countries. Early modern observers noted how women went out freely in the streets, while at the same time the early modern period is supposedly marked by the rise of a ‘domestic ideology’ that confined women to the home. Was such an ideology rooted in social practice? This project will try to answer this and other questions by reconstructing the gendered use of the streets in Amsterdam.

Through the extensive notarial records and other textual archival sources of Amsterdam, the urban experience of both men and women will be traced and compared to see if the gendered social norms we find in moralist literature were also translated into spatial practices. Furthermore, the continuity and change of the physical and social dimensions of Amsterdam’s urban space will be mapped through the use of Amsterdam’s wide-ranging records.

Researcher: Bob Pierik