Abstract

Elise van Nederveen Meerkerk investigates the extent to which colonial ties between the Netherlands and the Netherlands East-Indies influenced women’s labour patterns in the colony as well as the metropolis. On the one hand, comparisons are made between quantitative and qualitative developments in women’s labour force participation in the Netherlands and the Netherlands Indies in the colonial period. On the other hand, various connections are made between developments in the metropolis and the colony. Not only did Dutch economic and colonial policies, such as the Cultivation System and the exports of Dutch textiles by the Dutch Trading Company (nhm), lead to changes in women’s work in both regions. Moreover, social policy, for instance the Social Question and Ethical Policy, also influenced legislation on and practices of women’s work in colony and metropolis. The underlying rhetorics were generally patronising, containing elements of class, ethnicity and gender to justify intervention (and the differences therein) in both parts of the empire.

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.