Settler frontiers are gender frontiers: Susanah Shaw Romney, ‘“With & alongside his housewife”: Claiming Ground in New Netherland and the Early Modern Dutch Empire’, The William and Mary Quarterly, 73, 2, 2016, pp. 187-224
Abstract: Gender relationships fundamentally supported the Dutch seaborne mercantile empire. In the seventeenth-century Netherlands, housewives and households anchored the civic world on which commerce depended. As Dutch traders, planners, and merchants sought to build profitable footholds around the world, they repeatedly turned to the idea that colonial outposts needed female inhabitants; transatlantic migrants similarly sought to further their own interests through family settlement and individual territorial claims. On the mid-Atlantic coast of North America, these ideas created an early and consistent emphasis on female migration and the creation of homes and villages along contested frontiers. The consequent creation of New Netherland’s physical “gender frontier” gave martial significance to women’s presence and family homes. Indigenous women’s agricultural fields became principal targets of Dutch forces as the colony expanded by relying on the establishment of immigrant households and villages. The women of New Netherland thus provide the opportunity to assess the key role of gender in the establishment of early modern settler colonies and the extension of imperial land claims.
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