Gender, Collecting, and Subsistence in the Pyrenees
Keywords:Trementinaires, Pyrenees, Gendered knowledge, Collecting for subsistence
This paper presents a case study on the links between natural history, female agency and self-care strategies in relation to the legacy of a female collective known as the trementinaires. The trementinaires were a group of female workers who traveled around the High Pyrenees, collecting plants and selling herbal medicines they made themselves. Their name derived from the word trementina (turpentine) since they were particularly recognized for their work as makers of turpentine. They were popularly known from the nineteenth century onward for their trustworthy knowledge of local medicinal herbs and their properties, as well as where to find them and when to collect them. Their story is linked to the valley in which they lived and the different gender roles developed through a social situation in which women led the economic support of the family. To subsist, these women developed their knowledge of herbs, local plants and products, improving the tools through which they gained a specialized collection of conservation techniques and recipes that they could use and transmit from grandmothers to mothers and daughters. This paper reflects on their relevance today and demonstrates how they challenged the traditional family roles based on a gendered knowledge of the environment and its resources.
Copyright (c) 2022 Elisa Garrido
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