How Questions about Gender and Sexuality Matter

Part of: Society for Historical Archaeology 2014

Gender research in historical archaeology began in the 1960s, analyzing changing Native American gender roles due to colonization, although the words ‘»contact» and ‘»assimilation’» were Eurocentrically used. In the 1970s historical archaeologists began asking feminist questions about gender and sexual power dynamics, although the word ‘power’ was rarely used. While all feminist questions are concerned with gender, not all questions about gender roles address power dynamics. In the 21st century the word ‘power’ has been used to more overtly discuss gender and sexual power dynamics. The papers in this session are about how each of us came to ask questions about gender and/or sexuality, whether influenced by other research or publications, the feminist movement and/or feminist theory, etc, and new research insights gained by asking questions about gender compared to ungendered research. The papers show how asking questions about gender matters and is important for research in historical archaeology.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-8 of 8)

  • Documents (8)

  • The Archivist, the Archaeologist, and Feminist Questing (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Joyce Clements.

    More than a decade ago a knowledgeable archivist wished me luck conducting documentary research on a 17th-century Christian Indian village in southeastern Massachusetts. The archivist conceded that he had failed to ‘find much’ during his research on the community. Contrary to his experiences, my questing produced considerable information on southern New England Christian Indian villages and revealed how the colonization process transformed those communities. Particularly noteworthy was evidence...

  • Cooking Matters: Questions for the Next Generation (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Karen Metheny. Anne Yentsch.

    Historical archaeologists have long recognized food as an important topic of study, but our questions have remained simple, with only fragmented links to discourse on gender and social dynamics. Elizabeth Scott (1999) used cookbooks to question assumptions about consumer choice and status based on material typologies, but the potential application of cookbooks, or food, to questions about family, households, and community was largely unexplored. Today, cookbooks and recipes are treated as...

  • Emancipating Practices? Investigating a situated feminism (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Elisabeth Arwill-Nordbladh.

    Based on the examples of some projects by the Swedish archaeologist and social reformer Hanna Rydh (1891-1964), this paper discusses the question of a situated feminism. The examples demonstrate that the emancipating potential connected to feminist articulations is related to time- and place-specific conditions, thus illuminating feminism’s paradox in relation to the general and the specific. These early missions have implications for the research of a feminist archaeology attempting to...

  • Keepers of the Flame: Inughuit Women at Floeberg Beach, Nunavut, 1905-1909 (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Genevieve LeMoine. Susan Kaplan.

    Inuit women were instrumental in the success of many Arctic expeditions, none more than those led by Robert E. Peary in the early years of the 20th century. But their roles, and the challenges they faced, are only infrequently documented. In 1905-06 and 1908-09 some 50 Inughuit (Polar Inuit) men, women, and children temporarily left their omes in Northwest Greenland to live and work for Peary on northern Ellesmere Island Nunavut, as he tried to reach the North Pole. Recent archaeological work at...

  • The Multiplication of Identity, or Women’s Lives and Identities Are Complex, Dynamic, and Multiple (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Carol Nickolai.

    It is easy to consider people primarily, or even only, by their dominant identity. If we do this in the present, how much more do we do it with the past? Too often women’s lives are examined only in reference to their most prominent activity or identity, for a women’s suffrage activist that political campaign becomes the focus of question and interpretation leaving aside everything other part of her life. When forming questions about women’s (and men’s) lives, we need to examine all aspects of...

  • “O What a Happy Meeting it Was!” Women, Alcohol, and Power in the Civil War Era (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Maggie Yancey.

    From the questions we ask to the sources we consider, historians must constantly navigate myriad possibilities. Whose narrative do we privilege? Where do the centers of power lie? What were the options, the possible constructions of reality circumscribed within a woman’’s ‘sphere?’ Was there a sphere? Who traversed the boundaries, and why? Feminist questions change more than research design’; they inform answers. They challenge standard narratives, they contest the boundaries and force us to...

  • The Personal is Political: Feminist research and the importance of exploring gendered experiences of the past and present (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kim Christensen.

    While the Second Wave feminist saying ‘The Personal is Political’ may appear cliché, it nonetheless highlights the recursive nature of individual, microscale experience and macroscale cultural trends. In this paper, I discuss how I came to study the domestic contexts of female reformers that strove to change the gendered and racialized landscapes of late nineteenth and early twentieth century America, seeking linkages between the domestic and the political. In the process of conducting such...

  • Propaganda and Power: Men, Women, Social Status, and Politics in Rural Connecticut during the Late Colonial and Early Republican Periods (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jennifer Trunzo.

    Power relations and ideology have been my theoretical interest in archaeology. Through historical deconstruction and reassessing the meaning of material culture in sociocultural contexts, I have been able to show that objects had to be politicized in order to remove them from class competition and situate them as political symbols of rebellion and independence in late 18th century American communities. Feminist archaeology has recast that data as evidence of women’’s active roles in pursuing...