"A Pensioned Gentleman": Women's Agency and the Political Economy of Marriage in Istanbul during World War I

Title"A Pensioned Gentleman": Women's Agency and the Political Economy of Marriage in Istanbul during World War I
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsDannies, Kate
JournalJournal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association
Volume6
Issue2
Pagination13-31
Date Published2019
Abstract

How to survive economically after the loss of their breadwinner was the dilemma faced by women during World War I in the Ottoman Empire. Scholarship on the socioeconomic impact of World War I has emphasized women’s entry into the labor force. While the war did facilitate women’s unprecedented access to public space, it reinforced dynamics that ultimately limited women’s economic security and access to citizenship rights. The political economy of World War I led to the codification of patriarchal support and dependence in law, while weakening in practice the existing marital economic bargain between breadwinners and housewives. Meanwhile, the Ottoman state sought to ensure that any expansion in women’s labor market participation was temporary. Through an analysis of marriage advertisements published in 1918, this study demonstrates that breadwinner-housewife marriage remained the primary means by which Ottoman women sought to achieve economic security during World War I. Men, meanwhile, traded on their wartime social capital to demand ever greater domestic and financial contributions from prospective wives. The requests that Ottoman women made of potential grooms, and the qualities and resources they offered in return, therefore provide an important but overlooked window into women’s agency in the final years of the Ottoman Empire. [From the Author]

URLhttps://www.muse.jhu.edu/article/746705
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