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Gender stereotypes in archaeology: A short reflection in image and text

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Edited by Laura Coltofean-Arizancu, Bisserka Gaydarska &Uroš Matić | 2021 
Paperback ISBN: 9789464260250 | Imprint: Sidestone Press | Format: 210x280mm | 64 pp. | Language: English | 35 illus. (bw) | Keywords: gender; stereotypes; archaeology; inclusiveness; diversity | download cover

Were men the only hunters and producers of tools, art and innovation in prehistory? Were women the only gatherers, home-bound breeders and caregivers? Are all prehistoric female depictions mother goddesses? And do women and men have equal career chances in archaeology? To put it short, no. However, these are some of the gender stereotypes that we still encounter on a daily basis in archaeology from the way archaeologists interpret the past and present it to the general public to how they practice it as a profession.

This booklet is a short but informative and critical response by archaeologists to various gender stereotypes that exist in the archaeological explanation of the past, as well as in the contemporary disciplinary practice. Gender and feminist archaeologists have fought for decades against gender stereotypes through academic writing, museum exhibitions and popular literature, among others. Despite their efforts, many of these stereotypes continue to live and even flourish, both in academic and non-academic settings, especially in countries where gender archaeology does not exist or where gender in archaeology is barely discussed. Given this context and the rise of far right or ultraconservative ideologies and beliefs across the globe, this booklet is a timely and thought-provoking contribution that openly addresses often uncomfortable topics concerning gender in archaeology, in an attempt to raise awareness both among the professionals and others interested in the discipline.

The booklet includes 24 commonly encountered gender stereotypes in archaeology, explained and deconstructed in 250 words by archaeologists with expertise on gender in the past and in contemporary archaeology, most of them being members of the Archaeology and Gender in Europe (AGE) Community of the European Association of Archaeologists. In addition, the stereotypes are beautifully illustrated by Serbian award-winning artist Nikola Radosavljević.

Challenging the status quo: deconstructing gender stereotypes in archaeology
Bisserka Gaydarska, Laura Coltofean-Arizancu and Uroš Matić

Stereotype 1 | Man, the hunter and field archaeologist vs. woman, the gatherer and laboratory analyst
Bettina Arnold

Stereotype 2 | Only women cooked in past societies
Marga Sánchez Romero

Stereotype 3 | Active men – passive women
Bettina Arnold

Stereotype 4 | Only women took care of the old and sick in past societies
Marga Sánchez Romero

Stereotype 5 | Only women cared about children in past societies
Katharina Rebay-Salisbury

Stereotype 6 | All women were young, slim and beautiful in the past, while all men were young, tall and athletic
Brigitte Röder

Stereotype 7 | Only men were violent in past societies
Uroš Matić

Stereotype 8 | Only high-ranking men were literate in the past
Agnès Garcia-Ventura

Stereotype 9 | Prehistoric societies were either matriarchal or patriarchal
Julia K. Koch

Stereotype 10 | Prehistoric female images are Mother Goddesses
Bisserka Gaydarska

Stereotype 11 | Families always consisted of a father, a mother and children
Julia K. Koch

Stereotype 12 | Two adult women buried together are the lady and her chambermaid
Julia K. Koch

Stereotype 13 | Sex and gender are the same
Katharina Rebay-Salisbury

Stereotype 14 | Binary sex and gender systems are natural
Sandra Montón-Subías

Stereotype 15 | There are only two genders
Pamela L. Geller

Stereotype 16 | Gender is universal
Alice B. Kehoe

Stereotype 17 | Gender as studied by gender archaeologists is an ideology
Uroš Matić

Stereotype 18 | Gender archaeology is practiced only by women and gay men
Rachel Pope

Stereotype 19 | Gender archaeology is only about women
Doris Gutsmiedl-Schümann

Stereotype 20 | There is no longer a need for dedicated gender archaeology
Nils Müller-Scheeßel

Stereotype 21 | Same-sex practices are a “modern” invention or a disorder
Uroš Matić

Stereotype 22 | Queer archaeology is just LGBTQIA+ researchers imagining past LGBTQIA+ people
Bo Jensen

Stereotype 23 | Women have equal career chances in archaeology as men
Maria Mina

Stereotype 24 | Archaeology is free of harassment, assault, bullying and intimidation
Laura Coltofean-Arizancu and Bisserka Gaydarska

Selected bibliography
List of authors

 

 

 


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