Activist Archaeology and Queer Feminist Critiques in Mesoamerican Archaeology

Author(s): Chelsea Blackmore; Shankari Patel

Year: 2017


One of the strengths of prehistoric archaeology is its ability to document the full range of human variation. For Latin America, activist archaeology has the potential to inform postcolonial and Third World feminist critiques that challenge white supremacist legal systems that marginalize women of color and indigenous peoples. The false universalisms and cultural essentialisms found in human rights debates ignore the diverse experiences of women’s oppression, especially the indigenous, poor, rural, disabled, and queer. Hegemonic models of the Mesoamerican past naturalize the oppression of women by employing colonial narratives regarding sex, gender and sexuality. The advocacy and activism of present day feminist archaeologists focus on decolonizing the discipline by documenting the fluid and contextual nature of pre-Columbian sex/gender systems, and demonstrating the agency and power of indigenous women in politics, religion and reproduction. In this paper, we ask the following questions: how do modern assumptions around sex, gender and sexuality find their ways into archaeological discussions of ancient Mesoamerican states? How do these narratives then become naturalized into discourses that perpetuate homophobic, sexist and racist legal systems? How can activist archaeology in Latin America both transform the discipline and potentially inform modern political debates?

Cite this Record

Activist Archaeology and Queer Feminist Critiques in Mesoamerican Archaeology. Chelsea Blackmore, Shankari Patel. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431729)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16316