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To Gender or not to Gender? Exploring Gender Variations though Time and Space

To Gender or not to Gender? Exploring Gender Variations though Time and Space

EAA - European Association of Archaeologists; Session organised by Bisserka Gaydarska (Bulgaria), Jana Fries (Germany), Paz Ramirez-Valiente (United Kingdom) and Katharina Rebay-Salisbury (Austria)
Faculty of Humanities Campus
Vom - Bis
26.08.2020 - 28.08.2020
Jana Esther Fries

A recent controversial study of Neolithic gender as opposed to Bronze Age gender in Europe (Robb & Harris 2018) necessitates further discussion. In a field encompassing enormous gender diversity through time and space, it is important to tease apart social constructions (is there 'gender'?) from analytical categories (what kind of gender?). Defining the relationship between sex/gender/identity/society through time has left some commentators believing that mainstream gender archaeology argues for a single understanding of 'gender' across time and space.
One of the aims of this AGE session is to refute such a claim, in overcoming binary thinking as the guiding principle of exploring gender and inviting case-studies with representations of binary, as well as non-binary, gender symbolism. Two types of contributions are invited:
1) Theoretical papers discussing whether a structuralist approach is justified by the need to have a 'fixed' category of gender that will enable meaningful comparison between different times and places. Is there really a moment in human development when we can no longer speak of sex-based behaviour but rather of gender-based behaviour? And if yes, when did it happen and why? Did this happen just once or at different times at different places? And was it uni-directional or are there cases of reversed behaviour from gender-based to sex-based? Did the size of the group affect the sex-based and gender-based behaviour and what were the implications for gender diversity? Answers to these questions can come from a wide range of case studies with broad spatial and chronological coverage.
2) Zooming into European Prehistory - can we really say that Neolithic gender is exclusively contextual and fuzzy, while Bronze Age gender is exclusively cross-contextual and binary and Copper Age gender represents a transition from one to the other? Presentations of case-studies exploring such a trichotomy are encouraged from across Europe.

We are looking forward to hear your contribution to the current gender discourse in European Archaeology. Please propose your paper (15 minutes) via EAA online submission form until February 13th (


Jana Fries

Niedersächsisches Landesamt für Denkmalpflege


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