Constructing Archaeology: Moving Sex/Gender and Sexuality Research from the Periphery to the Center

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 82nd Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC (2017)

The majority of archaeological projects neglect sex/gender and sexuality research due to a social construction within our community that relegates these topics to the periphery of archaeological discourse. This session aims to move sex/gender and sexuality studies from the periphery to the center by examining the implementation of such research in a variety of archaeological projects with differing regional foci and research goals. The papers in this session impress upon the archaeological community that such lines of inquiry should be routine in classroom instruction, field work, and lab analysis. The research presented addresses new theoretical engagements, methodological approaches, and interdisciplinary work that allow for a practical approach to the investigation of sex/gender and sexuality constructs in past communities. The diverse approaches illustrate that sex/gender and sexuality is still, and will remain, an important topic that anyone studying the past should, at the very least, consider.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-9 of 9)

  • Documents (9)

  • Built on Sand: The Historical Roots of Modern Queerphobia within Christianity (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Danielle Heinz.

    Homosexuality’s place within the church has been a topic of considerable debate among modern theologians. However, most theologians have only focused on homosexuality, disregarding the presence of all other alternative sexual identities and have used only Biblical textual evidence to justify their views on homosexuality. This text contributes a broader scope to the sexuality debate. It considers all queer sexualities, archaeological artifacts, and uses a queer theoretical lens to deconstruct the...

  • The construction of archaeological practice: Sex/gender and sexuality on the fringe (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kirsten Vacca.

    Archaeologists have incorporated sex/gender and sexuality research in projects for decades, yet such foci have failed to become widespread as they are largely considered a specialty or niche topic. This paper first looks at why the topics in question have remained on the fringe of archaeological research. The subsequent discussion analyzes ways in which contemporary practices can counteract deeply embedded ideas about the archaeology of sex/ gender and sexuality, making this approach to the...

  • Engendering the Bioarchaeology of the Viking Age (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Chelsi Slotten.

    The emergence of sexual orientation stigma or "queerphobia" within Christianity has a deep history that can be traced through historical and archaeological sources. Previous researchers in Mesopotamia argued that "queerphobia" did not exist in ancient times, yet biases against non-normative sexual orientations are continuously debated among contemporary theologians. This paper explores how sexual orientation stigma came to exist in modernity, arguing that the emergence of this phobia parallels...

  • Gender and Obsidian Economy in Mesoamerica (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Brenda Arjona.

    Obsidian tool production in Mesoamerica has been considered primarily the work of men. It is important to examine the roles that women might have had in obsidian crafting. This paper uses results from a study of an obsidian assemblage from an unusual burial excavated at Puerto Escondido, Honduras, to explore the implications of women possibly being involved in stone tool production. In this burial one person was laid out on a bench, wearing an obsidian mirror, in a below-ground chamber, that was...

  • Hunting and/or Gathering: Gender and Fishing Practices in Polynesia (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Alexis Ohman.

    Fish and fishing occupy an intersection between meat and not-meat, hunting and gathering. As such, it does not fall into a clean division of labor by gender. Fish were acquired, processed, and distributed according to distinct sociocultural and sociopolitical codes of conduct that could result in death if not properly carried out: either accidental death from ciguatera toxicity or execution as punishment for breaking kapu/taboo. Tuna is well-known to be one of the most prized animals in...

  • Identity Intersectionality and Gender in the Archaeological Past and the Archaeologists’ Present (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Geoffrey Taylor.

    Archaeologists live in a reality in which gender, sexuality, race, age, and occupational identities (to name a few) are pervasive and impactful in our professional and personal lives. Our individual experiences in the world are always being shaped by our place at the intersection of multiple perceived and/or performed identities in the multiple social landscapes we inhabit. It then must be accepted that social identities operated similarly for people in the past. Still, there remains a hesitance...

  • Incorporating sex/gender and sexuality studies into general education curriculum (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Dee Malcuit.

    When considering how to incorporate sex/gender and sexuality studies into college curricula, the question is: Where to start? In this paper, I argue that college and university programs should include content on the social construction of sex/gender and sexuality within general education courses. I will predominately focus on my work with Ohio community college students as a case study that has broader implications for general education outcomes. Pairing courses such as Sociology and Archaeology...

  • Let’s Hear It for the Boy: Masculinity, Manhood, and Archaeologies of Gender (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only David Hyde.

    This paper will seek to explore how archaeological investigations of masculinity and manhood can contribute to contemporary theory on gender and sexuality. Drawing on material from a 19th century industrial work camp in Coastal California, I will argue that intersectionality provides promising avenues as both a theoretical paradigm and as a way to articulate archaeological work within a wider, multi-disciplinary discourse on gender. Methodological implications for archaeological engagements with...

  • What’s in a Dress?: An Archaeological Collection of Kapa Cloth from Nineteenth-Century Nu‘alolo Kai, Kaua‘i Island, Hawai‘i (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Summer Moore.

    Anthropological discussions of gender and sexuality in colonial-era Polynesia have often focused on the introduction of Western clothing styles and the relationship between changing modes of dress and the negotiation of new social identities. Because clothing is highly perishable, however, there have been few opportunities to address this topic through the archaeological record. My paper presents an analysis of an exceptionally well-preserved collection of archaeological cloth from Nu‘alolo Kai,...