Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 788–809 | Cite as

Qu(e)erying Sex and Gender in Archaeology: a Critique of the “Third” and Other Sexual Categories

  • Enrique MoralEmail author


In this paper, I will recover the issue of the “third gender” in archaeological analysis in order to argue that the use of a “third,” despite what it may appear at first sight, does not challenge the logic inherent in gender and sexual binaries, that is, the use of universal, ahistorical, and stagnated categories. As an alternative, I will rely on Almudena Hernando’s genealogical work on gender and identity, as well as on Lucía Moragón-Martínez’s arguments regarding corporeality, to state that in “oral societies” (like prehistoric ones), body and person cannot be ontologically distinguished and, as a consequence, the anatomical features that we categorize as “sex” can neither be thought nor defined abstractly. I will further examine the implications of this claim in relation to the sex–gender fluidity that can be seen in those oral societies, formerly pigeonholed into the third gender category. In addition, I will analyze current literature developed by gender archaeologists in order to show the strengths and limitations of my proposal in relation to recent works on the topic.


Third sex Third gender Sexuality Intersectionality Queer theory 



I would like to thank Lara A. Ghisleni, Alexis M. Jordan, and Emily Fioccoprile, editors of this volume, for accepting my contribution to the session “Binary Bind: Deconstructing Sex and Gender Dichotomies in Archaeological Practice” at the 20th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists, held in Istanbul, 2014, as well as for the comments they did on the first draft of this paper. I am also very thankful to professors Almudena Hernando and Sandra Montón-Subías for the encouragement and support they have given to me in relation to the archaeological study of sex, gender, and sexuality.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universitat Pompeu FabraBarcelonaSpain

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