Women and public space : Social codes and female presence in the Byzantine urban society of the 6th to the 8th centuries

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http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-51-5154-4
Title: Women and public space : Social codes and female presence in the Byzantine urban society of the 6th to the 8th centuries
Author: Lindblom, Jeanette
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Arts
Doctoral Programme in History and Cultural Heritage
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2019-04-27
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-51-5154-4
http://hdl.handle.net/10138/300676
Thesis level: Doctoral dissertation (monograph)
Abstract: The aim of the study is to sketch a picture of female presence in public space in the urban milieu of the Byzantine Empire in the 6th to the 8th centuries. The ideological framework of society is juxtaposed with narrated praxis. Women’s public presence is viewed from different horizons, taking into consideration aspects such as location, occasion and the diversity within the female population, such as the division into social groups and civil status. Traditional methods of historical research are employed. However, the study also takes advantage of various theoretical considerations evolving in the 20th century. A selection of different source types serves to represent a broad spectrum of society. These sources include legal texts, papyri, chronicles, hagiographies and other religious texts, epigrams, and other poetry, as well as non-textual material such as manuscript illustrations and mosaic decorations. The connection between the sources and the society producing them ensures that the broad selection of relevant material reflects cultural attitudes and practices. The study begins with a theoretical discussion and a review of previous research and the relevant source material, followed by an overview of the cultural and ideological framework within which women operated. The focus in the subsequent chapters is on women’s presence in public in four segments of society: religious, financial, political and social life. Thereafter the discussion turns to female movability, gender correlations and the relationship between ideals and praxis, and chronological shifts. Whereas many previous studies concentrate on one category of women, or treat all women as an entity, this study considers the whole spectrum of women in society and the differences in their situations. Although the basic framework of female behaviour was relatively homogeneous in ideological terms, the study shows that factors such as social class, civil status, locality and circumstances affected the way in which women were present in public and how this presence was evaluated by the surrounding society. Further, there was some chronological fluctuation. An interesting finding is the idea of gender symmetry, also displayed in public space. This was at its peak during the 6th century, when the female public presence generally seems to have been slightly more prevalent than in later centuries.Avhandlingen behandlar kvinnornas närvaro i det urbana offentliga rummet i det Bysantinska riket från början av 500-talet till slutet av 700-talet. Samhällets ideologiska ramar jämförs med praktiska realiteter. Kvinnornas närvaro i offentligheten betraktas ur fyra perspektiv, det religiösa, det ekonomiska, det politiska och det kulturella livet, samtidigt som variationer mellan olika platser, sociala tillfällen och diversiteten inom den kvinnliga befolkningen beaktas. Utöver traditionella metoder inom historieforskningen utnyttjas olika moderna forskningsteorier. Ett brett urval av olika källmaterial har använts. Bland källorna ingår såväl juridiska som historiska texter, papyrusmaterial och hagiografier, epigram och andra dikter, samt även bildmaterial i form av bland annat manuskriptillustrationer och mosaiker. Avhandlingen inleds med en teoretisk diskussion. Därefter diskuteras det bysantinska samhällets ideologiska ramverk inom vilket kvinnorna skulle verka. Slutligen undersöks kvinnornas verksamhet och närvaro i det offentliga rummet från olika synvinklar och mot bakgrunden av det ideologiska ramverket. Kvinnornas rörlighet, relationen mellan ideal och praxis, samt kronologiska förändringar i dessa förhållanden diskuteras. Tidigare forskningar har ofta koncentrerat sig på en specifik grupp av kvinnor i samhället, medan denna undersökning strävar efter att kartlägga samhällets hela spektrum. Även om de ideella ramarna var mer eller mindre de samma för alla så visar denna forskning på de skillnader som i praktiken förekom i kvinnors relation till det offentliga rummet, vilka var beroende av faktorer såsom t.ex. social status och civilstånd. Det förekom även kronologiska variationer där speciellt 500-talet framstår som en intressant period vad gäller kvinnornas synlighet i det offentliga rummet.
Subject: allmän historia
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