Archive for April, 2011

Next Seminar: Gender in Archaeology

Attention to gender and feminist questions within archaeological practice and theory has followed a somewhat different path from other disciplines, but inquiry into the presence of women and the difference gender makes, is ongoing in a variety of areas. The discussion be led by Meryl Altman, Professor of Women’s Studies at DePauw University, will address the following important issues:

●How does gender affect the use of space, the meaning of objects, the distribution of resources and power?

●What theories about gender (implicit or explicit) underlie various ways of conceptualizing (for instance) the household and the city? Suspicion has rightly fallen on certain “grand narratives” (evolution from matriarchy to patriarchy, “oriental seclusion,” etc., whether in conservative or feminist versions); is it desirable to avoid all grand narratives? (Is it possible?) To what extent should “domesticating” vs “foreignising” strategies be pursued, i.e., is it helpful to emphasize similarities or differences with the present day?

●How does the development of gender and feminist theory and methodology articulate with other developments in the field of archaeology (processualism, post-processualism, interest in “networks,” questions about the possibility/desirability of reconstructing “experience”), and are there differences between the archaeological study of the Aegean region vs the rest of the world?

●What is/ should be/ can be the relationship of gender archaeology to ethnography? is there a place for aesthetics? how do we understand relations between gender representations and gender realities? between “status” of women and women’s power defined as access to resources? what role, if any, remains for biology?

●How can the sorts of evidence available, and the methods of investigation used to explore that evidence, influence the social picture that develops? How can we be careful not to erase differences between women – in particular differences of social class – and still come to some conclusions? What do we do when the texts say one thing and the material culture says something difference? What do we do when there are no texts? Is it reasonable to generalize between literate and pre-literate societies?

●How does the study of sexuality (including same-sex practices and gender fluidity) overlap with study of the presence and role of women, where are there some disconnects, how can these different approaches most productively work together?

●How does the study of gender intersect with studies of ethnicity, colonialism, and migration?

Seminar will take place at 7pm on Wednesday April13th 2011 at the Irish Institute of Hellenic Studies (IIHSA) at 51a Odos Notara.

Numbers are limited to 15, please RSVP by email ( to book a place and request the reading