Historical and economic legacies in Greenland: new data and persistent issues - Javier L. Arnaut

4:45 PM, Friday 4 Oct 2019 (30 minutes)
During the early‐modern period, women in Western European countries began to marry at an older age. This historical observation is known as the (Western) European Marriage Pattern (EMP). As a result, the position and agency of women arose by enhancing human capital formation and by encouraging women and girls access to wage labor. These developments coincided with the arrival of Christian missionaries to colonized areas and the diffusion of European cultural traits. Only a few historical studies have found whether the characteristics of the EMP ‘traveled’ outside of North‐Western Europe. While existing literature on this phenomenon has typically focused on European countries and peripheries, regions in the Arctic have been neglected. This paper uses Protestant church’s historical records of marriages of various Greenlandic towns (Nuuk, Qaqortoq, Qeqertasuaq and Aasiaat) to explore whether the marriage patterns in colonial Greenland exhibited characteristics of the EMP. It discusses how the gender division of society changed with the creation of the Danish trade monopoly and how the subsequent development of colonial labor markets may have affected marriage decisions of Greenlandic women. It concludes analyzing the potential underlying mechanisms and causes of the existence (or absence) of the EMP in colonial Greenland.
University of Greenland
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