Politics in the Marketplace: Work, Gender, and Citizenship in Revolutionary France, Oxford University Press, January 2019.

One of the most dramatic images of the French Revolution is of Parisian market women sloshing through mud and dragging cannons as they marched on Versailles and returned with bread and the king. These market women, the Dames des Halles, sold essential foodstuffs to the residents of the capital but, equally important, through their political and economic engagement, held great revolutionary influence.

Politics in the Marketplace examines how the Dames des Halles invented notions of citizenship through everyday trade. It innovatively interweaves the Dames' political activism and economic practices to reveal how marketplace actors shaped the nature of nascent democracy and capitalism through daily commerce. While haggling over price controls, fair taxes, and acceptable currency, the Dames and their clients negotiated tenuous economic and social contracts in tandem, remaking longstanding Old Regime practices. In this environment, the Dames conceptualized a type of economic citizenship in which individuals' activities such as buying goods, selling food, or paying taxes positioned them within the body politic and enabled them to make claims on the state. They insisted that their work as merchants served society and demanded that the state pass favorable regulations for them in return. In addition, they drew on their patriotic work as activists and their gendered work as republican mothers to compel the state to provide practical currency and assist indigent families. Thus, their notion of citizenship portrayed useful work, rather than gender, as the cornerstone of civic legitimacy.

In this original work, Katie Jarvis challenges the interpretation that the Revolution launched an inherently masculine trajectory for citizenship and reexamines work, gender, and citizenship at the cusp of modern democracy.


"The most imaginative and indomitable research lies behind this elegantly argued book that recasts a whole series of now standard arguments about gender and citizenship in the French Revolution. Katie Jarvis brings markets, food, money, and taxes back into the mix and in the process shows how politics, economics, and gender cannot be understood as separate categories. This is a brilliant achievement that marks the appearance of a major new talent in historical scholarship."--Lynn Hunt, author of History: Why It Matters

"Katie Jarvis's remarkably innovative and beautifully written book brings to life one of the most visible and active participants in the French Revolution, the fishwives and market women of central Paris. It goes beyond abstract political, economic, and gender theory to explore the women's real experience at street level and how they helped shape a new concept of citizenship and national identity. It will stand as a landmark in the history of women in the French Revolution and of the Revolution more generally."--Timothy Tackett, author of The Coming of the Terror

"Combining insights from labor and economic history, the history of women and gender, and the political history of the Revolution in wonderfully innovative ways, Katie Jarvis challenges us to understand the formation of the category of citizen from the bottom up and through the daily practices of working women."--Clare Haru Crowston, author of Credit, Fashion, Sex: Economies of Regard in Old Regime France

"With a Balzacian eye for the telling detail, Jarvis brings the reader into the world of the revolutionary market women of Paris, the Dames des Halles. Richly textured, in the best tradition of the classic studies of the early modern working class, Politics in the Marketplace brings into dialogue gender analysis, legal history, and political economic approaches to provide a model for how social history should be done."--Rafe Blaufarb, author of The Great Demarcation: The French Revolution and the Invention of Modern Property