Antonia is an architect and historian focusing on the theme of gender and diversity in the manmade environment. She studied architecture at Cambridge and Princeton, and has practiced as an architect in the Netherlands, Switzerland and the UK. In her PhD research, Antonia studies the gendering of urban nature in 18th-century Europe. The research is funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) through the ‘PhD in the Humanities’ programme.
Landscape and garden history, gender history, architectural history, cultural history, urban history, architectural design and urban planning
Crafting Nature, Cultivating Gender: Gender and Urban Nature in Berlin and Amsterdam during the long 18th Century
How does space construct social difference? How do cities shape the possibilities and identities of different groups of people? These questions hold great relevance today when urban inequality is increasing. Women, especially, continue to face significant vulnerabilities in cities worldwide. However, urban gender inequality has a long history. Green spaces have played a crucial, albeit largely overlooked, role in producing these disparities. To date, historians have operated under the assumption that urban nature lacked the segregating powers of the built environment. Yet, there resides a connection between the seclusion of green spaces and the longstanding association of these spaces with women. This project explains how the evolution of urban nature at the birth of the modern city was implicit in women’s exclusion from urban space.
The project pursues a pioneering approach to study the gendered uses of green spaces in the modernizing city. My research focuses on the long 18th century as a transformational period in both the relationship between urban and natural space and between the sexes. The project takes the form of a systematic comparison of two major cities following distinct trajectories of urban development: Amsterdam and Berlin. By considering gardens, public green and the urban fringes concurrently, the project is the first to offer a comprehensive analysis of the gendering of urban nature in relation to the city in its entirety. Through a multidisciplinary approach combining the methodologies of architectural and social historians, this project makes a crucial contribution to our knowledge of the history of urban gender inequality.