A Queer Reframing of Gendered Archaeological Theory

Author(s): Jamison Rush

Year: 2017


Archaeologists must move beyond outdated paradigms of biological sex as an objective and cross-culturally applicable category, even when presented distinctly from gender. These paradigms prevent recognition of gender’s full variation, and exclude those outside of Western gender ideology from participation in research. To move toward a more inclusive gender archaeology, I propose that culturally-specific definitions of gender replace these epistemologies to prioritize emic viewpoints. I critically analyze the strengths and shortcomings of theoretical perspectives on gender that previously attempted to decolonize ethnocentric sex and gender conceptions. To further develop these theories, I recommend identifying and distinguishing gender assigned culturally and gender assigned archaeologically, with the goals of respecting cultural and individual agency as well as being cross-culturally relevant. To achieve this, I propose two complementary modes of gender categorization. This ontological reconceptualization maintains a standard of classification and incorporates culturally specific models of gender when available. Multiple cross-cultural case studies, including reanalysis of the Vix grave, substantiate this method and show applicability in practical contexts. Decoupling gender assigned at birth and gender assigned after death creates a powerful tool which, in its implementation, serves to establish scientific thought as a culturally specific method itself.

Cite this Record

A Queer Reframing of Gendered Archaeological Theory. Jamison Rush. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430533)

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Abstract Id(s): 14897