I am an Associate Professor (UHD) and Academic Director of the Amsterdam School of Historical Studies. I obtained a PhD from the University of Utrecht in 2007. After holding postdoctoral research fellowships at the Faculty of Economics and Girton College of the University of Cambridge (2007-2012), I taught at the School of History and the Centre of Medieval and Early Modern Studies of the University of Kent (Canterbury). In 2016 I moved to the University of Amsterdam where I currently direct an NWO VIDI project on gender and urban space in Eurasia. I have also held Visiting Fellowships at the Institute of Advanced Studies on Asia (University of Tokyo, 2015; 2017), and the Institute of Advanced Studies (Amsterdam, 2020-21).
Trained as a socio-economic historian of the pre-industrial Netherlands, over the years my research has broadened into the history of material culture, urban space and the built environment and currently covers the history of urban Eurasia in its transformation to the so-called modern era.
My research includes a variety of topics from gender relations to street life, everyday practices, food cultures, housing and urban segregation. Most of my work focusses on ephemeral aspects of life, and the experiences of so-called marginal groups such as women and the poor: all aspects that often remain overlooked in standard narratives of history. I am primarily interested in the agency of the overlooked and how their experiences were shaped by formal and informal institutions, such as laws and regulations, and beliefs and cultural practices.
My work typically applies a comparative and long-term perspective and has an interdisciplinary character combining approaches from across the (Digital) Humanities and Social Sciences. My research has been supported by (amongst others) a Rubicon Grant (2007) and a VIDI Grant (2016) from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), an Ottilie Hancock Research Fellowship (JRF Girton College; 2008) and a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship (2010).
I currently lead an interdisciplinary project team that works on the gendering of urban space in premodern cities in Eurasia (Amsterdam, Edo/Tokyo, Batavia/Jakarta and Berlin). In this context my research has expanded to the urban history of Asia and to questions on measuring and modelling urban everyday mobility in the past, on the extraction of practices from textual and visual sources, and on the relationship between architectural form, environment, and urban experience. Central to answering these questions are digital methods, including GIS, 3D reconstructions and agent-based modelling.
In the Vrouwen op de (Historische) Kaart project, funded by the KNAW Gewaardeerd Fonds, I work with colleagues and partners from Education and Cultural Heritage on translating research findings into educational materials for secondary schools. We partner with F-Site, Studio Bertels, Hogeschool van Amsterdam and the UvA MA in History (Education).
With colleagues at UvA’s Centre for Urban Studies and the Amsterdam School for Heritage and Memory I have launched a new platform called Claiming the Streets. This platform brings together scholars from a variety of disciplines as well as practitioners, activists and artists to exchange ideas on how to use insights from the past and present to imagine the future of city streets.
- Early modern streets. A European Perspective. Early Modern Themes (London: Routledge 2023).
- Food hawkers. Selling in the streets from antiquity to the present [Edited with Melissa Calaresu] (London: Routledge 2016).
- Women and entrepreneurship. Female traders in the Northern Netherlands c. 1580-1815 (Amsterdam: Aksant 2007).
- Bij uijtlandigheijt van haar man. Echtgenotes van VOC-zeelieden aangemonsterd voor de kamer Enkhuizen (1700-1750) (Amsterdam: Aksant 2005).
- ‘Capturing gendered mobility and street use in the historical city: a new methodological approach’, [with Bob Pierik, Bébio Vieira Amaro, Ivan Kisjes], Cultural and Social History (2020) 17:4 pp 515-536, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14780038.2020.1796239. [Republished in IAS Review (2021:1)]
- 'Gender in the Streets of the Premodern City', Journal of Urban History (2018) DOI: 10.1177/0096144218768493.
- ‘Policing peddlers. The prosecution of illegal street trade in eighteenth-century Dutch towns’, The Historical Journal Vol. 58 No. 2 (June 2015) 367-392.
- ‘The multiple identities of early modern Dutch fishwives’ in: SIGNS: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. Vol. 37 No. 3 (Spring 2012) 587-594.
This project analyses the gendering of urban space in the early modern city. It is widely held that between 1600 and 1850, women gradually withdrew from the public sphere of the street and moved to the private sphere of the home. This powerful narrative, linked to theories of modernisation, has created a conceptual stranglehold that sees public space as exclusively male and private space as entirely female, thereby obscuring the actual workings of gender in pre-industrial urban societies.
This project offers a pioneering approach to the study of gendered urban space, enabling for the first time to move beyond the public/private dichotomy and analyse women’s access to pre-industrial streets in full. Through an analysis of the ownership of streets, both formally by authorities and informally through daily use, it uncovers how urban space was gendered in the run up to the nineteenth century. It hypothesises that the extent to which women could own the street depended on gender norms, local governance, urban fabric, and the everyday use of streets and squares. As such, this project uniquely enables a cross-cultural comparison that connects the material and immaterial city, as well as for women’s agency to play a central role in the analysis.