Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Gender identity via archaeology

More material for thinking about gender and identity, how gender identity is always provisional, and how information meaning is as much about the context - about the interpretation - as about the data.

Our ancient ancestors may have known more about gender than we do 

The past is frequently used, consciously and unconsciously, to reinforce what we consider to be normal. And the idea of fixed genders with their associated roles and identities is especially true of this. Archaeological material has frequently been used to reinforce these ideas about gender [...]
But considering archaeological evidence from another angle, it becomes apparent that our expectations of gender roles can be problematic. In ancient terms, our gender divides are far from universal. It is not the experience everywhere that gender falls neatly into binary categories of male or female; that is, into being either male or female, with nothing in between. In fact, the evidence suggests that much of what we perceive as core components of our identity were not significant categorising factors in the past. Rather, we see ambiguities in identities repeatedly represented in the material culture from archaeological sites.

[...] our understanding is blinkered by our own perspectives of gender categorisation ...

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