Gender, Collecting, and Subsistence in the Pyrenees


  • Elisa Garrido Universidad Autónoma de Madrid



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.

Author Biography

Elisa Garrido, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid

Elisa Garrido is a lecturer at the Autonomous University of Madrid specialising in the links between history of science and arts. In 2015 she received a Fulbright Scholarship to carry out a postdoctoral stay in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History to study the impact of arts in public engagement with science from Alexander von Humboldt’s work. Her interests are focused toward a model of transdisciplinary research into Nature, History of Art and Culture.






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