Academic journal article Magistra

The Silk Industries of Medieval Paris:Artisanal Migration, Technological Innovation, and Gendered Experience

Academic journal article Magistra

The Silk Industries of Medieval Paris:Artisanal Migration, Technological Innovation, and Gendered Experience

Article excerpt

The Silk Industries of Medieval Paris:Artisanal Migration, Technological Innovation, and Gendered Experience, Sharon Farmer, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017. 352 pp., $69.95, ISBN 978-0812248487

Sharon Farmer follows up her excellent Surviving Poverty in Medieval Paris (Cornell University Press, 2002) with her study of the silk industries of Paris, continuing her research focusing on that population that too often gets overlooked: women and the poor. With this volume, she also looks at the involvement of Jews and Lombards with Parisian silk women in both production and credit.

She states her intentions clearly. She establishes that Paris did indeed have a silk cloth and silk textile industry that played a significant role in the economy, and that is was a major source of employment for women. Her study explores how the technology of luxury silk cloth production reached Paris and thus immigration patterns, requiring skilled artisans and entrepreneurs who understood the peculiar characteristics of silk fiber from the Mediterranean (1). These immigration patterns from the Mediterranean challenge more popular notions that France was somehow "purely French" and not constitutive of migrations of peoples with their languages and culture [hmmm, what would La Pen think of this!]

Farmer also examines women's involvement in this industry, namely that women working in the silk industry in Italian towns inevitably remained in the bottom of the labor hierarchy - in contrast to women active in the Parisian silk industry. …

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