Conceiving sex: Fomenting a feminist bioarchaeology

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


There has always been sex in bioarchaeology. Researchers believe that biological sex, as a fundamental category of skeletal analysis, is dualistic, innate, and unchanging. To highlight the shortcomings in bioarchaeology's analysis of sex, I stress several important ideas derived from feminist-inspired scholarship. In the past 15 years, many of these scholars have worked to demystify sex as a fixed, dichotomous entity by historicizing the concept and detailing cross-cultural understandings. I also tease out biomedicine's comprehension of sex, as evidenced by discourse and practice. Biomedicine provides the larger epistemic frame for bioarchaeologists' sexing criteria, as well as the meanings that many investigators attach to discernible, biological difference. Ultimately, drawing on feminist-inspired theories allows for critical reflection as well as exploration of alternative issues. Such integration supplies fertile ground upon which biologically oriented scholars may sow the seeds of needed disciplinary changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-138
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Social Archaeology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Binary oppositions
  • Bioarchaeology
  • Biomedicine
  • Division of labor
  • Feminist theory
  • Genetic studies
  • Identity
  • Queer theory
  • Sex and gender

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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