Betwixt the Male and Female Quarters: Engendering the Historical Archaeology of the Peel Island Lazaret

14th May 2012

Gender is a key category for the organisation of social activity and for ascribing symbolic meanings, and is thus integral to descriptions of life in past societies. A more complex historical archaeology of the Peel Island Lazaret, a twentieth-century total institution, is produced through the interpretive strategy of engendering. Engendering is a theoretical approach which grew out of feminist archaeologies, and focuses on the everyday dynamics enacted between people. Because gender plays a role in the structure of societies, it can provide understandings of human social agency which are lacking from analyses that regard gender as an essential characteristic. Nelson’s methodological model for approaching gender in the archaeological record is modified for use in historical archaeology, and the social theories of institutions advanced by Goffman and Foucault contribute to an understanding of responses to disciplinary power. Individuals’ experiences are highlighted to facilitate the location of personal and group actions. The social structures of the Peel Island Lazaret disproportionately disadvantaged female patients, but were also the locus of resistance actions. The diversity of individual and interactive responses demonstrated through the historical archaeological record reveals how the conditions of incarceration interplay with male and female social identities.

April Youngberry
"Betwixt the Male and Female Quarters": Engendering the Historical Archaeology of the Peel Island Lazaret
June 2011
Thesis Abstracts
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