Women in small-scale societies: how demographic archaeology can contribute to gender archaeology

Author(s): Jennifer French

Year: 2017


Demography has re-emerged as a growing research area within archaeology. Recent studies have refined archaeological demographic methods and developed models which cite demographic change as a key variable in explaining social and artefactual change. However, one aspect which has not been explicitly acknowledged is how archaeological demography is intrinsically concerned with women. In this paper I explain the importance of women to the demographic regimes of small-scale societies and discuss how, as a result of this, archaeological demography can contribute to the aims and practice of gender archaeology. I argue that archaeological demography places primacy on women as visible, active, agents of past demographic (and, consequently, social) change, explaining how changes in women’s behaviour generate demographic patterns. Using the Neolithic Demographic Transition as an example, I discuss how the long-term, regional population trends documented through archaeological demographic research provide a record not only of changes in the behaviour of women, but also offer insight into past gender dynamics through the impact that gender as a fluid structuring principle of social life has on the lives and actions of both women and men.

Cite this Record

Women in small-scale societies: how demographic archaeology can contribute to gender archaeology. Jennifer French. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430673)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15749