chapter
3 Pages

Introduction

WithNigel Worden

This chapter focuses on the experience of gender in Europe's colonial towns. It provides a range of examples of how recent work on the town has contributed to understanding gender in the context of European colonialism. As Kathleen Wilson has argued for the British Empire in the eighteenth century, 'British people confronted other cultures and gender systems which were not structured by the binaries and complementarities familiar to Europeans and which used alternative markers of social relation and difference. Colonial institutions nonetheless strove to regulate the sexual, conjugal and domestic life of those within their purview'. In the early stages of their development, the majority of the colonial inhabitants were male. The conquistadores and early Spanish settlers of Latin America, the employees of the Dutch East India Company in Batavia, the English East India Company in Madras and Calcutta and the militia of the convict settlement in Sydney were all men.