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Antonia Weiss M.Arch

PhD candidate


Crafting Nature, Cultivating Gender: Gender and Urban Nature in Berlin and Amsterdam

University of Amsterdam
Promotor(es): Prof. dr. Erik de Jong, Dr Daniëlle van den Heuvel
Aanstelling: vanaf september 2018

How does space construct social difference? How do cities shape the possibilities and identities of different groups of people? These questions hold great relevance today as urban inequality is increasing. Women, especially, continue to face significant vulnerabilities in cities worldwide. However, urban gender inequality has a long history. Green spaces have played a crucial, albeit largely overlooked, role in producing these disparities. To date, historians have operated under the assumption that urban nature lacked the segregating powers of the built environment. Yet, there resides a connection between the seclusion of green spaces and the longstanding association of these spaces with women. This project explains how the evolution of urban nature at the birth of the modern city was implicit in women’s exclusion from urban space.
This project pursues a pioneering approach to study the gendered uses of green spaces in the modernizing city. My research focuses on the long 18th century as a transformational period in both the relationship between urban and natural space and between the sexes. The project takes the form of a systematic comparison of two major cities following distinct trajectories of urban development: Amsterdam and Berlin. By considering gardens, public green and the urban fringes concurrently, the project is the first to offer a comprehensive analysis of the gendering of urban nature in relation to the city in its entirety. Through a multidisciplinary approach combining the methodologies of architectural and social historians, this project makes a crucial contribution to our knowledge on the history of urban gender inequality.