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She specialises in the archaeology of the medieval period in the UK, especially in relation to the archaeology of religion, and the archaeology of gender. On 26 February , Gilchrist won the "Archaeologist of the Year" award in the Current Archaeology Awards ,  which are voted for by the public, and recognise people who have made outstanding contributions to archaeology.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Roberta Gilchrist. Medieval archaeology Archaeology of religion Gender archaeology. Roberta Lynn". Who's Who December Retrieved 28 June Companies House. Retrieved 23 March University of York. Retrieved 4 September Department of Archaeology. University of Reading. British Academy Fellows. British Academy. Sam Lucy has been criticized for drawing attention to the rare exceptions where this norm is inverted, with women buried with weapons and men with jewellery Hadley Although such anomalous individuals may be rare quantitatively, it is possible that they occupied significant social and particularly, ritual roles within a pervasive masculine-feminine categorization.
Within archaeology, the term has been applied to studies that range widely from discussions of homophobia in the contemporary archaeological profession, to the archaeological identification of homosexuality in the past, to critical perspectives on established methodologies and interpretative approaches Dowson ed. There is sometimes a reluctance to define the meaning or scope of queer theory, in the belief that the process of academic definition cancels its subversive value Marshall Such a view intentionally limits the utility and application of queer theory, since its proponents must remain outside the accepted points of academic reference that they wish to change.
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Such an application of queer theory distances it from the epistemological position that was taken up by feminist archaeologists. Alison Wylie commented that for political reasons, feminist archaeology had resisted approaches that deny the possibility of recognising reasonable standards for choosing between competing interpretations. A relativist position would remove grounds for adjudicating between feminist and androcentric archaeologies Wylie b , and I would argue by extension, that a relativist position removes grounds for adjudicating between queer and homophobic archaeologies.
More indirectly, queer theorists have had a profound impact on gender archaeology. The theorist Judith Butler has been especially influential: her linkage of the body with the symbolic world ; has stimulated new archaeological approaches to sexuality and embodiment. In this way, gender takes on the appearance of something natural; it is not just constructed, but a binary effect that is illusionary or artificial. She argues that contemporary gender categories are created by us, and lived by us. The important themes she raises have impacted on archaeology previously, through the writings of Pierre Bourdieu and Michel Foucault Her rejection of predefined categories in favour of embodiment is a challenge to conventional social and biological definitions of sex.
Moreover, it confronts archaeological studies that treat the body as a passive mannequin, onto which categories of gender identity are imposed. Theories of embodiment, particularly those linked with Butler, have dominated emerging archaeologies of sexuality. Traditionally, archaeology has treated the study of sex and sexuality lasciviously, or has avoided such discussions for reasons of academic prudery Voss and Schmidt Recent studies have examined archaeological evidence for the control of sexual relations, for example within prisons Casella , through colonial missions Voss , or in brothels Seifert et al Sexuality has been explored archaeologically through embodied subjectivity, including perspectives on same-sex desire Joyce and celibacy Gilchrist These studies emphasize the contextual nature of sexuality — values of desire, stigma and morality are socially constructed and culturally specific.
Lynn Meskell demonstrated this in her study of New Kingdom Egypt In sharp contrast to the familiar Judaeo-Christian tradition, the sexual was integrated within the Egyptian spheres of domestic, ritual and religion.
There was no terminology of sexuality or categorization of individuals according to sexual preference. Sexuality was linked with age groups and points in the lifecycle that would be considered taboo in the modern west, including birth and nursing, children of all ages and adolescent girls. Meskell suggests that a household cult operated around women and their sexuality, but also notes the occurrence in these spaces of ordinary domestic items, such as troughs and mortars. She concludes that sexual imagery was neither pornographic nor fetishistic; sex in Egypt was celebrated alongside the performance of everyday, domestic routine.
Masculinity: do weapons make the man? Gender archaeology grew from feminist concerns, and it is true to say that its subsequent development has been predominantly gynecentric. Related topics within theoretical archaeology, such as the body e. Rautmann ed.
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As Bernard Knapp observed, a woman-centred approach is as biased as the androcentric narratives that feminists rejected Androcentrism remains the perspective of the powerful; in such a position, there is little need to negotiate, explore or re-examine masculine roles. In twenty years of gender archaeology, only a handful of articles have given serious consideration to the theoretical and empirical substance of masculinity in the past. Masculinity is presented most frequently as synonymous with the warrior. Moreover, they deny the possibility that women may have held power, or that females interacted with material culture that archaeologists consider to have been instruments of power such as weapons and tools Gilchrist Pioneering studies of masculinity in archaeology have examined the relationship between the male body, representation and sexuality.
Paul Treherne focused on the role of grooming, ornamentation and male symbolism in the European Bronze Age , although some of his assumptions reinforce the notion that masculinity comprises universal values. Tim Yates studied the Bronze Age rock carvings of the west coast of Sweden to explore the way in which the male body and sexual identity were represented figure 3. Instead, he proposes that the opposition demonstrated in the rock art was between male sexual identity and male sexual ambivalence. She focuses on evidence for a phallic cult in the houses and temples of the Late Classic and Post-classic Yucatec site of Chichen Itza Joyce She suggests that visual representations of males stressed the physicality of a naked or scantily clad body, while females were shown fully enveloped in elaborate costumes.
Anthropomorphic sculptures in temples were portrayed revealing their male genitals, while a palace complex incorporated large, three- dimensional phalli. Joyce concludes that the Mayan gaze was homoerotic; it elevated the male body, framed for a noble male viewer.
Gilchrist ; Casella Focus on masculinity prompts reassessment of male institutions, ranging from monasteries, to logging camps, and fraternities Brashler ; Kryder-Reid ; Wilkie Such approaches examine relations of power and sexuality within all-male communities, and hold considerable potential for application to single-sex activities in prehistory and the ancient world.
For example, study of food remains from a nineteenth- century, male religious community in Annapolis, Maryland, suggested that lay-brothers were feminized through their compulsory performance of intensive domestic chores for the priests such as primary butchery of animal carcasses Kryder-Reid They also created difference and hierarchy within a community of young men that was otherwise unified by their sex, age, class and ethnicity.
Looking forward: multi-faceted identities Increasingly, the selection of gender for archaeological analysis is broadened to include considerations of embodiment, sexuality, or identity. Many of the most persuasive case studies in these areas are broadly historical, with material culture and imagery complemented by some textual evidence or frame of reference. Whether or not an experiential or individual perspective is taken, the complexity of gender demands interrogation in concert with other aspects of identity, such as social rank, age and ethnicity. This approach challenges the prevailing view that age is purely a biological phenomenon; in common with gender, age is culturally invested to produce different life experiences for men and women Gilchrist A life course perspective encourages the identification of age roles and thresholds that are culturally specific.
Even in the absence of textual sources, the evidence of burial archaeology and visual imagery holds the potential for life course analyses of age and gender categories. In documented contexts, it may expand to include considerations of inter-generational relationships, such as parenting Wilkie , and constructions of age that intersect with cosmological meanings of time and space Gilchrist ; Meskell Historical archaeologists are able to consider gender alongside class, for example in relation to the cultural elaboration of the emerging middle classes.
In her study of nineteenth-century New York, Diane DiZerega Wall showed how women used ceramic tablewares to construct a cult of domesticity, and to ritualize the family sphere. The timing of daily routines altered with the separation of the home and workplace that was spurred by capitalism. The main meal was shifted to the evening, when men returned from work, and dinner was enhanced as a social occasion by the development of formal courses and table settings. Afternoon tea, in contrast, was feminized as a social ritual for women Wall Middle class women selected more highly decorated and expensive ceramics for these ritualized meals, in contrast with the materials represented in contemporary African-American households Wall The relationship between gender and ethnicity remains under-theorised, despite the considerable attention that has been given to ethnicity in historical archaeology.
In the archaeology of early medieval Europe, grave goods have been used traditionally to chart the migration of particular ethnic groups. As Bonnie Effros has argued, medieval archaeologists have treated women as passive icons of identity; their proposed lack of agency underlies the use of their material culture as the most reliable markers of ethnicity Postcolonial perspectives are beginning to highlight the active agency of subaltern men and women in transforming gender in new social contexts. For example in contact period New England, Native American women countered colonialism through strategies that including taking up pipe smoking and developing new ceramic iconography and utilitarian pestles Nassaney With the culmination of twenty years of research, is a distinctive archaeology of gender still necessary?
Or, alternatively, is the way forward heralded by studies of embodiment that emphasize symbolic and experiential perspectives on gender? Clearly, future research must also explore how gender interacts with other factors to construct identity, express sexuality, and structure relations of labour, power and intimacy. Greater attention should be given to diachronic change, alongside the existing emphasis on the historical specificity of gender.
A comparative evaluation of masculinity and femininity is still needed, and urgent considerations of masculinity and gendered ethnicity are required.
The keen political edge of feminism may have blunted in gender archaeology, but new political concerns have been raised in response to homophobic practice, colonial attitudes, and sociobiological assumptions. References Bourdieu, P. Outline of a Theory of Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Brubaker, L.
Gender in the Early Medieval World.
, Gilchrist, Gender and Material Culture | The Medieval Review
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New York: Basic Books. Butler, J.
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Gender Trouble. Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. London: Routledge. Brashler, J. Casella, E. Schmidt and B. Voss eds. Conkey, M. New York: Academic Press, Dislocating Masculinity. Comparative Ethnographies. Costello, J. De Lauretis, T. Derevenski, J. Children and Material Culture.
Excavating Women. A History of Women in European Archaeology. Dowson, T. Queer Archaeologies, World Archaeology Human Nature and the Limits of Science. Oxford: Clarendon.