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engendering archaeology

archaeology of gender/
feminist archaeology
adds women and other oft-neglected or
marginalized people to prehistory
challenges stereotypical or ethnocentric
images of women and roles they play
exposes the way current assumptions
about gender can be read into the past
focus on issues of sexuality/the body and
the way gender may have been
constructed in different ways in the past
approaching gender in archaeology

No real research until the 1980s

At first conferences, most women claiming
not to be feminists
Earliest work sought to simply add women
to prehistory: used ethnographies to
produce archaeological signatures and
thus, find women in the past
problems with early approaches:
universal assumptions
All of these implications flowed from observing
dichotomies in archaeological distributions of
material traces of different activities. In order to
see women, archaeologists worked to see two
kinds of tasks that were exclusively carried out by
two kinds of people. As a consequence,
archaeologists inadvertently projected into the past
one kind of experience of gender, the two sex/two
gender model most familiar to people in late 20th
century industrial societies (p. 43)
sex and gender

Differences, variability: anatomy, chromosomes,

and hormones do not form two simple packages
(p. 45)
Sex based biological differences have material
effects on peoples lives: But they do not
inevitably lead to any particular way of thinking
about divisions of people into groups (p. 45)
The fact that human beings vary in this way
does not necessarily mean that that variability
will determine the ways in which people
differentiate themselves from others (p. 45)
archaeology and gender today

Studies continue to focus on womens

pasts, especially in places where they
have been left out or taken for granted
questioning the stability of gender identity:
how has gender identity been transformed
through the years
critiquing the role of material things in
promoting specific gender relations as
sex, gender, and archaeology

Heteronormativity and archaeological

Third genders, non-privileging of sex
Performing gender
Materiality and gender
Gender and hierarchy
gender and the Swahili house
Women are relatively powerless outside the
house; men hold religious and economic
But within the confines of the house, they
are quite powerful, through:
the education of children,
the control over slaves
their association with the interior portions of the
house which had ritual importance