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2. Searching for Women’s Agency in the Tobacco Workshops: Female Tobacco Workers of the Province of Selanik

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Chapter Summary

This chapter serves two important areas of investigation: the ecomically dispossessed lower classes of women and the image of the submissive Oriental woman. The study of women tobacco workers of Selanik province at the turn of the twentieth century is carried out in an investigatory framework that seeks to evaluate the position of working women of the late Empire and their role in the organization of labor. Here the chapter proposes that studying the agriculturally-based workshop environment could further enlarge the literature on women's labor. It is argued that labor organizing and politicization, in a sector like tobacco in which women predominated at the turn of the century, deserves special attention. The Ottoman Empire was an exporter of half-processed oriental tobacco, which was treated in the workshops of international tobacco companies and local independent merchants located around the Selanik and Kavala ports.

Keywords:Ottoman economy; Selanik; tobacco workshops; womens agency



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