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Servants of Francophilia: French Migrant Women as Governesses in the Bohemian Lands, between Cultural Transmission and Reproduction of Social Distinction (1750–1810)


Abstract: This article shows empirical and conceptual possibilities of exploring the transcultural roles and economic situations of French migrant women who served as governesses in the noble circles of the Habsburg monarchy. It combines various research methods, employing narrative textual analysis, socioeconomic and material culture approaches, and cultural exchange perspectives. The author uses printed librettos and comparative insights to reveal broader social anxieties connected with governesses who crossed multiple borders in terms of geography, culture, language, class, and the gender order. She also draws attention to inheritance tax–related sources as evidence of these women's economic conditions. Finally, the author outlines the major shifts in attitudes toward the French language and French immigrants and shows how these affected the governesses’ labor market.
Keywords: women migrants / governesses / work history / gouvernante / literary type / French / sociolect / cultural transmission / Bohemian Lands / early globalization

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