Thesis abstract ‘The Power of Gender’

30th December 2013

Cherrie De Leiuen

BA(Hons), Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, Adelaide, October 1998

Little, if any, research has been directed into the roles and presence of Indigenous women on the whaling and sealing sites which operated last century in the Southern Pacific. The whaling and sealing industries and associated sites have been perceived to be a largely male domain, but are often the point of contact between black and white/male and female in Australia. Often, Indigenous women lived with non-Indigenous men at whaling stations. There is a gap in the archaeology of these industries and particularly in the area of the role of women. A complete picture of these industries cannot be seen by archaeologists until the nature of contact and occupation of such sites are explored and this involves issues relating to the trade and labour of these Indigenous women who were at these sites. This study, a feminist approach to interpretation of the archaeological record, will illuminate the presence of individuals and explore the possibilities for a greater visibility for women at both a local and regional scale.

This research determined some of the ways in which gender can be incorporated into archaeological methodologies to identify indigenous women at contact sites. An integrated approach to the archaeology of gender has the potential to produce more holistic interpretations of the past. A feminist approach has been debated, dismissed and practised for the past three decades but as Conkey and Gero (1997) point out, there is not ‘a shared orientation to the study of gender, or a single method for studying gender, or, perhaps more problematically, even a commonly held body of theory and data about gender’. How do we ‘do’ archaeology as feminists? What is gender and how does it manifest in the archaeological record? What does power have to do with the identification of gender on sites? The answers to these questions involve contemporary archaeological practice and prevailing perceptions as to what constitutes gender, and how these are extrapolated to form our reading of the past. The interpretation of what constitutes a ‘gendered’ artefact was explored, explicitly critiquing material culture in terms of both genders, and ways of changing paradigms.

De Leiuen, C.
Thesis abstract 'The Power of Gender'
December 1999
49
67–68
Thesis Abstracts
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