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‘…Already in the Stone Age’: critical gender archaeology and popular myths of dichotomous sex
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History.
2010 (English)In: 16 th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists, 1-5 sept. 2010. The Hague - The Netherlands: Session: Feminist, masculinist, and queer visions of the past, 2010Conference paper (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Drawing from the potentials and obstacles of Stone Age gender archaeology, this paper offers a critique of popular myths of dichotomous sex underscoring public discourses, evolutionary psychology and certain strands of neuroscience. Central to a feminist theoretical scientific gender archaeology is the critical analyses of ‘taken-for-granteds’ – the enquiry of analytical categories and central nodes used in scientific practice and discourse. Categories like sex and gender, woman, man, masculinity and femininity needs to be contextually investigated, they are no stable analytic categories ready to employ in analysis. Gender archaeologist have long challenged static notions of hunter-gatherers and assumptions of a consistent sexual division of labor in the Stone Age. The archaeological record of hunting, fishing and gathering sites suggests variability, changeability and complexity of gender relations rather than a great ‘natural’ and universal divide of labor by sex. Anthropological studies of hunter-gathering societies also stress the highly flexible gender dynamics of many hunter-gatherer societies. Yet, static assumptions of what Stone Age women and men did in their daily lives – men were hunters and women gatherers – underscore popular myths of ‘natural’ sexual difference. Evolutionary psychology declares that innate dichotomous sex evolved in response to specific adaptive problems faced by hunter-gatherers in the Pleistocene Stone Age. In a similar mode, neuroscientific studies of the sexed brain refer to a sexual division of labor in the Stone Age as formative of the different architecture of male and female brains. Without putting the analytical Stone Age categories at risk, these sciences have won large public audiences. Newspapers trustily cite research on male and female minds and brains referring to ‘…already in the Stone Age’. The result, I argue, is a naturalization of hunter-gatherers and a science of sexual difference uncritically resting on presumptions of what men and women did in the Stone Age.

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URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-131818OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-131818DiVA: diva2:355579
Available from: 2010-10-07 Created: 2010-10-07 Last updated: 2010-11-08Bibliographically approved

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Lidström Holmberg, Cecilia
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