Identity and difference: Complicating gender in archaeology

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


From its inception, the archaeology of gender was entwined with feminism. Engagement has engendered reconstructions of complex, diverse peoples and practices that are more equitable, relevant, and sound. Yet, for many archaeologists, the connection with feminist perspectives has frayed in recent years. Their studies of gender articulate dated ideas about women and epistemological frames that highlight duality and universality. Examinations of labor divisions typify shortcomings. To advance gender's study and archaeology, practitioners need to consider several concerns about identity and difference emerging from third-wave feminism. Gender is envisioned as intersection. Bioarchaeology, especially, will benefit from feminist approaches that reflect critically and regard gender in nonnormative and multiscalar terms. To this end, resistance to feminism must fade. Opposition stems from its imagined relationship with postmodernism, but conflation misconstrues feminism's sociopolitical commitment to emancipatory change. For their part, archaeologists can utilize feminist perspectives to diversify the field, explore difference, and tackle archaeological issues with sociopolitical resonance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-81
Number of pages17
JournalAnnual Review of Anthropology
StatePublished - Oct 2009


  • Bioarchaeology
  • Feminism
  • Postmodernism
  • Race
  • Sexuality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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