Landscapes of Gender in Archaeology: Theory, discourse, practice

Author: Cherrie De Leiuen

De Leiuen, Cherrie, 2018 Landscapes of Gender in Archaeology: Theory, discourse, practice, Flinders University, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

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This thesis is about the impact of gender studies in archaeology. It examines how the discipline has engaged with gender theories, and how such theories manifest in archaeological praxis. It undertakes an analysis of gender and language, adapting and applying the methods of corpus linguistics to research articles of six prominent archaeological journals over six decades. The aim is to identify what gender theory looks like in archaeological research, and to evaluate its conceptual efficacy. This is important in a broad sense, as the value archaeology places on gender creates a legacy which affects the perception and understanding of men and women in both the past and in contemporary practice.

This thesis fills a gap in knowledge about gender theory. Despite decades of gender research across academia, there is no study that has assessed the growth or decline of gender in archaeology, or its uptake in publication or practice. It provides an original analysis, tailoring methods from corpus linguistics to correlate gender, archaeology and language. It also considers how hegemonic gender has come to exist—how it has been studied, compared, understood, discussed, and applied. This thesis also assesses whether or not the gender ‘argument’ has developed and evolved in archaeology, and if, in its current paradigm, has reached its limits. While a goal of this study is to consider where and how gender is used in archaeology, a more fundamental question is: why study gender?

This study is unique in its examination of keyword frequencies, collocates and concordances extracted from archaeological research articles. This data evidences the ways in which producers of texts have adopted the concept of ‘gender’, and the extent to which this representation has changed over time, before and after the advent of feminism, and across journals. The results of the study are thus lexical in nature, and both genre-related and time-related. Analysing words (or their absence) occurring repetitively and naturally in texts is strong evidence for an underlying hegemony about gender. This is significant because gender bias and power asymmetries in the present have become increasingly nuanced. In addition, there is a palpable notion that gender has become commonplace and almost ubiquitous within social archaeology. The study proves there has been little inclusion of gender theories in the vast majority of the 4784 articles or 33,268,048 words in the six journals examined. The results show that there has been little inclusion of gender theories in the vast majority of the articles examined. In fact, it is arguable whether or not there has been an impact at all. If so, it is certainly marginal and inconsistent, and does not permeate the overarching archaeological discourses. That is not to say gender theories have not been used, developed and advocated, but such papers are produced by a small sample of people who spend time focused on the topic of gender. The decades of solid and articulate arguments for changing how gender is understood and applied in the discipline have resulted in very small shifts. The underlying hegemonic principles are still there and stronger than ever.

Keywords: Archaeology, Gender, Corpus linguistics, Women in archaeology, archaeological theory, critical discourse analysis, historical archaeology, Feminism

Subject: Archaeology thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2018
School: College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Supervisor: Assoc. Prof. Heather Burke