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What this Awl Means

Feminist Critiques of Archaeology

What this Awl means
Introduction to feminism in Anthropology
Feminist approaches past, present and future
Examples of feminist work in archaeology,
both historic and prehistoric.
Group Discussion of readings
Discussion and Annotated Refs due Friday
The Feminist Movement
Historical contexts
Women in the labor force: The Great Depression,
WWII Lead to changes in how women viewed their
The Civil Rights movement learned valuable
lessons about how to participate in a social
movement. However, could not express discontent
because feminist issues had to take a backseat.
Kennedys commission to study the status of women
in the US. Equal Pay Act 1963.
Feminism in Anthropology
Feminism in Anthropology
1st appears in ethnology.
Rosaldo and Lamphere 1974: Woman,
Culture and Society
Collection of essays that focus on women
and womens roles in society.
One of the first overt discussions of
gender inequality in Anthropology. Both
the structure and the universal nature of
Feminism in Anthropology
Is inequality universal?
Early feminism was rooted in western
ideology. Much of the criticism came from
women of color gender could not be isolated
from race, class and sexuality.
The criticisms lead to a new way of looking at
Feminism in Archaeology
Feminism in Archaeology
Started out as a critique, in the early 80s
Conkey and Spector 1984: Archaeology and the
Study of Gender.
Focused on putting women in the archaeological
Looking at biases within the work and within the field.
Post-modernist? Post-processualist?
Both are notably silent on the subject.
Depends on the approaches taken by the feminist
Feminism in Archaeology
Women in prehistory were non-existent or given
passive roles.
Emphasis was placed on mens work, such as
hunting, butchering, tool making, etc.
Womens roles were seen as restricted to the
domestic sphere and taken for granted. Any
innovation was assumed to be a male invention.
Ex: Agriculture, cooking.
Biases affected not only what was being studied,
but who was studying it. Women studied pottery
and men studied stone tools, women ran labs
and men excavated.
Feminism in Archaeology
Biases trickled into main stream culture.
Man the Hunter
Greatest achievements in evolution were
based on male hunting activities, disregards
evolution of cooking and other advancements.
Imposes modern gender roles and ideology
on early hominids.
Man the Hunter
Man the Hunter
Feminism in Archaeology
Womens place in the discipline.
Victor and Beaudry 1992
A study conducted in the late 80s looking at
the representation of men vs women in
American Antiquity and Historical Archaeology
Feminism in Archaeology
Necessary, but provided a very simplistic
view of gender
The critiques that mentioned in ethnology
apply to archaeology as well.
Western views of gender applied too liberally
Focus shifted to understanding gender