Call for Papers: Rural History 2019 Panel – Men Alone: Bachelors and Widowers in Rural Europe

RHN 11/2019 | Call

Organisers: Francisco García González, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, and Margareth Lanzinger, University of Vienna

Rural History 2019, 10-13 September 2019, Paris, France

Deadline for paper proposals: 28 January 2019

Call for Papers:
Rural History 2019 Panel
Men Alone:Bachelors and Widowers in Rural Europe from the 16th to the 19th Century

The increasing masculinisation of that segment of the rural population that lives in single-person households is among the most striking social and demographic transformations currently taking place in Europe. In order to understand the dimension of this phenomenon in an appropriate manner and in its longue durée, it is necessary to take a look back through history.

So far, the topic of men living alone in rural areas has received little historiographic attention. For one thing, rural societies – due to their assumedly strong social cohesion and in contrast to urban ones – have often been placed within a paradigm that overlooked single people (Thierry Ginestous, 2007). What’s more, work focused on historical forms of the family has likewise frequently neglected and ignored people who lived alone. Single people represented an antithesis of sorts, above all in societies that defined themselves via marriage in a central way (Lanzinger y Sarti, 2006).

In view of such circumstances, we think it is time that this topic (which was already taken up decades ago in the field of sociology, above all by Pierre Bourdieu [1962])—be put up for renewed debate and dealt with in greater depth. And strengthening this field of research is all the more important in light of how the question as to single women or women as household heads has so far enjoyed considerably greater interest (García González y Cotente, 2017), being present in numerous studies especially from the perspective of gender – as multiple researchers, including Isabel Devos at the 2013 Rural History Conference in Bern, have concluded.

The objective of the proposed panel is to identify and analyse various and diverse situations of single or widowed men who lived alone in rural Europe on the basis of approaches that permit a look at demographic and socio-economic conditions as well as at outward appearances and representations.

A broad palette of questions can be formulated as part of the this panel’s work, including as to the reasons for which men lived alone, the composition, size, and structures of the households in which they lived, their occupations, their status and other social categories, their income and wealth situations, stereotypes that stigmatised them, the legal framework within which they operated, their survival strategies and reproductive strategies, the significance of property transfer models, and their spheres of action during the individual phases of their lives. Above and beyond the level of analysis, contributions are to be contextualised in terms of the regional and social space as well as the time period at issue.

Prospective panellists:
Mónica Miscali, University of Oslo, Norway
Sandro Guzzi, Université de Lausanne, Switzerland
José Antonio Salas Auséns and Francisco José Alfaro, Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain

Please send your proposals for papers (approx. 1 page/300 words) by 28 January 2019 to: Margareth Lanzinger (Vienna),

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