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Research in urban history: recent Ph.D. theses on gender and the city, 1550–2000

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 April 2014

Institute for History, Leiden University, Doelensteeg 16, 2311 VL Leiden, The Netherlands


Since the first outcries from feminist historians in the early 1970s against the absence of women as historical subjects, tangible progress has been made towards the inclusion of both female and male identities and experiences in historical research. The definition of gender as a ‘category of analysis’ brought about a small revolution in historical research, especially in social, economic and, more recently, cultural history. Traditional narratives about the marginal economic role of women or their limited participation in the public sphere have subsequently been re-evaluated and new hypotheses about people's gendered experiences have emerged. This growing interest in the formation and influence of gender identities is also increasingly discernible in urban history, where gender analysis has proven to be of particular relevance in understanding men's and women's use of urban space and, vice versa, the ways that the urban environment shaped the construction of people's gendered identities.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014 

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1 See for example Scott, J., ‘Gender: a useful category of historical analysis’, American Historical Review, 91 (1986), 1053–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

2 For example, Henderson, T., Disorderly Women in Eighteenth-Century London (London, 1999)Google Scholar.

3 Scott, ‘Gender: a useful category of historical analysis’, 1064.

4 See also Neale, M., ‘Research in urban history: recent theses on crime in the city, 1750–1900’, Urban History, 40 (2013), 567–77CrossRefGoogle Scholar, especially his comments on M. Abraham, ‘The summary courts and the prosecution of assault in Northampton and Nottingham, 1886–1931’, University of Leicester Ph.D. thesis, 2011, and M. Pluskota, ‘Prostitution in Nantes and Bristol, 1750–1815: a comparative study’, University of Leicester Ph.D. thesis, 2011, both of which examine the relationship between gender and crime in the city.

5 Quoted in J. Ayto, ‘The contribution by women to the social and economic development of the Victorian towns of Hertfordshire’, University of Hertfordshire Ph.D. thesis, 2012, 5.

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15 Chenault uses GIS to map gays’ and lesbians’ mobility within Atlanta, but this is an application that we see more often used when studying prostitution, as the data is more readily available and standardized, as it relies on police records. See the interesting website of Stanford University: See also Hubbard, P. and Sanders, T., ‘Making space for sex work: female street prostitution and the production of urban space’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 27 (2003), 7589CrossRefGoogle Scholar.