England’s medieval town court records reveal significant information on the social and economic relationships of ordinary urban residents. These relationships and conflicts concerning them are particularly evident in trespass litigation: complaints about physical and verbal assaults and the theft of goods. This article uses trespass pleas from the towns of Nottingham, Chester, and Winchester in the fourteenth century to explore the gendered nature of trespass litigation and the implications that this misbehavior had for understandings of honor and reputation in urban society. It demonstrates the ways in which women were involved in trespasses as both complainants and defendants. While women were less frequent litigants than men, the records reveal continuity between their actions in trespasses. This article thus broadens the framework of female honor beyond sexual behavior to encompass interpersonal relationships, a broad range of physical and verbal attacks, and concerns about economic fidelity.
Trespass and Honor in Late Medieval English Towns
A Case Study
W. Brian Newsome
This article investigates the experiences of French women in communities of single-family homes by analyzing Villagexpo, a model subdivision built in the Paris suburb of Saint-Michel-sur-Orge in 1966. Drawing on archival resources and recent interviews with original inhabitants, the article argues that the “village“ model of Villagexpo attracted a nucleus of couples with deep roots in associational movements. Committed to the concept of village life, they facilitated social activity in the subdivision, helping female residents overcome a sense of isolation. The article modifies previous, and largely negative, depictions of the experiences of women in communities of single-family homes and places Villagexpo in the context of broader urban trends.
Between Religious Restrictions and Medical Opportunities
In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is gradually becoming available in Georgia, but while the medical technologies are being developed, the Georgian Orthodox Church opposes the idea of having a child through what it declares to be unnatural ways. Despite the authority of the Church, the Orthodox discourse about IVF is not directly incorporated into the everyday lives of people. Ethnographical observation has allowed an exploration of how childless women in Georgia reconcile modern reproductive technologies with their religion. In order to explain the hybridity in women’s attempts to make official religiosity better adapted to everyday life, I use the concept of bricolage as applied to the social practices of women who assemble different, seemingly disjointed, resources in coping with problematic situations.
Recreating Meaning in Transnational Context
Denise L. Spitzer
Migrating to another country is potentially fraught with both challenges and potential opportunities. This article examines ways in which mature Chilean, Chinese and Somali women who migrated to Canada deploy personal and communal resources to imbue shifting relations and novel spaces with new meanings. Through these activities, they create a place for themselves on Canadian soil while remaining linked to their homelands. I argue that the ability of immigrant and refugee women to reconstruct their lives—often under conditions of systemic inequalities—is evidence of their resilience, which consequently has a positive effect on health and well-being.
Female Génocidaires in the Aftermath of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide
Since the 1994 Rwandan genocide, the current government has arrested approximately 130,000 civilians who were suspected of criminal responsibility. An estimated 2,000 were women, a cohort that remains rarely researched through an ethnographic lens. This article begins to address this oversight by analyzing ethnographic encounters with 8 confessed or convicted female génocidaires from around Rwanda. These encounters reveal that female génocidaires believe they endure gender-based discrimination for having violated taboos that determine appropriate conduct for Rwandan women. However, only female génocidaires with minimal education, wealth, and social capital referenced this gender-based discrimination to minimize their crimes and assert claims of victimization. Conversely, female elites who helped incite the genocide framed their victimization in terms of political betrayal and victor’s justice. This difference is likely informed by the female elites’ participation in the political processes that made the genocide possible, as well as historical precedence for leniency where female elites are concerned.
The Lithuanian Catholic Women's Organisation, 1908-1940
This article examines the history of the Lietuviu Katalikiu Moteru Draugija (LKMD, Lithuanian Catholic Women's Organisation) from its foundation in 1908 to its disbandment under Soviet occupation in 1940. Special attention is paid to the LKMD's changing relationship with the Catholic clergy and Lithuanian nationalism. Exploring which type of feminism the LKMD represented, the article focuses on attitudes of the LKMD leadership towards women's rights, participation in society, and paid employment. The beginning of the 1920s is shown to have been a turning point. At that time many educated women became active in order to enshrine women's rights in the statutes of the newly independent Lithuanian State. Several of them joined the LKMD, subsequently succeeding in reducing the clergy's influence on the organisation's central board. The LKMD, it turns out, was a good example of a women's organisation espousing relational feminism (Karen Offen's term), insisting on women's participation in society as being distinct from men's, particularly in relation to women's role as mothers, while taking a stand for equality between men and women, especially with respect to judicial issues.
This article addresses the impact of family law on women during the Middle Byzantine period, 726–1204. Restricted to household roles, marriage provided betrothed women, wives, and mothers with certain legal protections. In the Middle Byzantine period conceptions and practices concerning betrothal, marriage, and dissolution of marriage were not consistent because both the church and the state determined sometimes contrasting rules and laws. The civil law protected women with respect to betrothal and marriage; pressure from the church, however, resulted in harsh laws concerning dissolution of marriage. Canon law nevertheless claimed that both sexes had quite identical legal rights in divorce, and women escaped from unhealthy marriages in certain circumstances. It seems that through its own legislation and its impact on civil law, the church enforced women’s position in marriage. At issue is whether this favorable treatment corresponded to social changes that improved the position of women in the Middle Byzantine era.
Between Stereotype and Reality
The aim of this article is to highlight the ways in which women were represented in Byzantine historical works from the sixth to the ninth centuries. These are probably the best sources for a comprehensive understanding of Byzantine society, since they are more vivid, more related to literature than the law codes or archival documents, and less biased than the clergy’s writings. Like “Barbarians,” women were thought to be inferior, irrational, highly emotional, and unable to control their impulses. Byzantine women did not seem to have an identity of their own; they were always thought to be a reflection of a male. Byzantine authors believed that the normal behavior for women was to remain secluded in their houses, but when they actually presented individual women, these were almost always those who did not confine themselves to women’s quarters. A woman’s main avenue of entering written history was to behave like a man, renouncing her gender and acting in an independent manner.
This article discusses the historical value of Ottoman women’s periodicals published in the aftermath of the 1908 Revolution, which marked the beginning of the Constitutional Era (1908–1918). Through specific examples of women’s writings in the press, it illustrates how these periodicals can shed light on the previously unexplored aspects of this period. The article argues that women’s journals allow scholars both to recover the identities and stories of hundreds of women, which would have been lost otherwise, and to challenge the mainstream historiography, which has traditionally presented a one-dimensional portrayal of the Constitutional Era by privileging men’s voices and experiences over women’s. It demonstrates that women’s journals not only reveal a dynamic, flexible, and complex milieu, in which women could and did act as agents of both social and political change, but also signify the multifaceted transformation the Revolution of 1908 caused in Ottoman society in the early twentieth century.
The Founding Generation of the Jeunesse ouvrière chrétienne féminine
W. Brian Newsome
In 1928 a group of young Parisian working women, guided by Father Georges Guérin, established a Catholic youth group called the Jeunesse ouvrière chrétienne féminine. This study examines the ideas of the founding generation of the so-called Jocists on women and the home; the ways in which these conceptions were rooted in religious assumptions about women and domestic space; the evolution of these positions through the Ligue ouvrière chrétienne féminine and the Mouvement populaire des familles (adult organizations that evolved from the youth group); and the effect of these ideas on the shape of domestic space in France. From this investigation emerges a portrait of conflicted individuals and organizations advocating ideas that were sometimes conservative, sometimes liberal, often contradictory, but all rooted in Catholic social doctrine. This story enriches our understanding of the Catholic Left, of which these associations became an integral part, and the impact that these groups had on France.