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Interdisciplinary Applications: Providing a Past for “Bodies That Matter”: Judith Butler's Impact on the Archaeology of Gender

Abstract

Recent archeological work on gender and sexuality has drawn on Judith Butler's discussions of abjection and gender performance in ways that promise to contribute to explicating these concepts. Representations of the past have the potential to lend the illusion of time depth, and thus cultural legitimacy, to contemporary social phenomena. Initially, feminist scholarship in archaeology did not critically interrogate gender. Consequently, it could be used to reinforce static, natural, and binary representations of gender in reconstructions of the past and their use in conservative ways in the present. Recently, some archaeologists have begun to focus on the regulatory modes through which gender was produced and reproduced in prehistoric communities. Archaeological work has been especially successful in examining the material dimensions of gender performance, thus addressing one of the repeated criticisms of this concept. The authors of this essay provide an overview of this recent archaeological writing with an emphasis on the ways it draws on, critiques, and extends the work of Judith Butler.

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Correspondence to Elizabeth M. Perry.

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Perry, E.M., Joyce, R.A. Interdisciplinary Applications: Providing a Past for “Bodies That Matter”: Judith Butler's Impact on the Archaeology of Gender. International Journal of Sexuality and Gender Studies 6, 63–76 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1010142023744

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1010142023744

  • archaeology
  • gender theory
  • performance
  • Judith Butler