Goitein and Strong Women
This essay examines S. D. Goitein’s tendency to find strong women in Geniza documents. I situate this predilection at the intersection of three separate currents. The first is the growing interest in women’s history in the late 1960s and early 1970s, precisely the time in which Goitein was working on the third volume of A Mediterranean Society. The second is a stereotype with a long history that sees Egyptian women as ruling over their weak husbands. Finally, Goitein seemed to have an interest in dominant female figures even before he turned to the study of the Geniza. I conclude by suggesting that, instead of describing certain women as strong, it is more useful to explore what the sources and types of strength for Jewish women in Egypt were and how they accessed, activated, and deployed their resources.
KeywordsS. D. Goitein Women’s history Egyptian women Cairo Geniza
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