Gender a concept and not as a

Gender archaeology examines different ideas about the study of gender throughout history. It was developed in the 1980 as a result of the ever growing feminist movement, as a way of re-evaluating what had previously thought to be a male orientated past. Female archaeologists begun to question how woman had been viewed in the past, with Margaret Spector and Janet Spector paving the way for gender archaeology by questioning ‘archaeology’s overall lack of interest in the subject of gender’ (Bolger 2003: 10). By not considering the role of gender during excavation, archaeology was seen to be ‘static’ over the roles of men and women in society (Bolger 2003: 10). What gender archaeology strives to achieve is to take away the presumptions on what is the norm for a man and women in a society, and to instead view gender as subjective and differing in every society.
When considering gender archaeology, what must first be considered it was is defined by the term ‘gender’. Archaeologically speaking, the term ‘gender’ is used more as a concept and not as a way of defining a physical sex. A human may be born male or female, which is their biological definition, but gender is something that is learnt and is not natural to a human. Gender also differs between different societies and time frames, and there is not a set definition of what describes male and female genders- it is individual to each society. What must also be remembered during this study are the differences between gender and feminist archaeology, as the two terms often can become confused. It was the feminist movement that gave rise to gender archaeology, however the two terms are not one and the same. Archaeologist Neil Silberman describes feminist archaeology as ‘the conjoined twin of gender archaeology’ and as generally defining ‘the political struggle against gender-biased social, economic and political oppression’ (Silberman 2012: 569). Feminism is a political movement, whereas gender archaeology studies the role of an individual in a society and there experience with gender. Gender archaeology aims to focus on how ‘gender is constructed and how it is experienced and maintained’ (Silberman 2012: 594). Sarah Nelson describes the concept of gender as to ‘differentiate biological givens from cultural expectations’ (Nelson 2004: 3).


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