Power
in Myth and materiality in a woman’s world
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This chapter seeks to navigate the issue of 'power' by approaching it in terms which the Shetland woman understood in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and which survive in women's contemporary understanding of their own heritage. Access to political and economic power in Shetland was dominated by men in their public roles as merchants, landlords and church elders, crofting tenants and fishermen. Shetland women engaged in a series of economic and cultural relationships which gave them a degree of power which was different from the kind of power possessed by men. Using models borrowed from feminist social anthropology it has been possible to show that the domestic space is just as much a centre of power as the public space. That power can be expressed and experienced through skill and knowledge and control of cultural resources as much as through property ownership and political influence.

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