Abstract

This chapter explores the complicated marriage between economic history and history of women and gender – disciplines that have not optimally reaped the benefi ts of each other’s results. This overview of developments in women’s and gender history over the past century analyses the relationship and offers suggestions for intensifying it. Although international in outlook, the focus lies on Dutch historiography. Recently, Dutch economic and gender historians have contributed greatly to international debates on economic development since the Middle Ages, especially in Western Europe. In this chapter, it is proposed that studying historical economic development on a global scale from a gender perspective can benefi t both economic and gender history. Although still relatively unexplored territory, many Dutch scholars are increasingly engaging in relevant research questions, hopefully providing the empirical foundations for long-term global socioeconomic histories that are gender sensitive.

Abstract

This article argues that global labour history (GLH) and global economic history have much to offer each other. GLH would do well to raise sweeping questions – for instance about the origins of global inequality – engage more with theory, and increasingly use quantitative methods. Instead of seeing labour and labour relations as historical phenomena to be explained, they can serve as important explanatory variables in historical analyses of economic development and divergence. In turn, economic historians have much to gain from the recent insights of global labour historians. GLH offers a more inclusive and variable usage of the concept of labour, abandoning, as it does, the often narrow focus on male wage labour in the analyses of many economic historians. Moreover, GLH helps to overcome thinking in binary categories, such as “free” and “unfree” labour. Ultimately, both fields will benefit from engaging in joint debates and theories, and from collaboration in collecting and analysing “big data”.