There is growing interest among historians of late medieval and early modern Europe in the concept of resistance for understanding women and power. Researchers are beginning to look beyond religious women’s overt and well-documented forms of opposition to reform efforts that increasingly restricted their physical enclosure; they contend that these women also resisted through more subtle cultural means, such as the devotional practice of imagined pilgrimage. Yet recent studies — including one by this author — have argued unconvincingly that late medieval Dominican nuns in southwest Germany who took mental journeys to Jerusalem or Rome thereby resisted their enclosure. This article uses an approach created by the anthropologist Sherry Ortner to check and correct this resistance model. It shows that the interpretation of what imagined pilgrimage meant to and for these late medieval women is most likely an effect of scholars’ present biases, both intellectual and sociocultural.

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