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The University of Southampton
TAG 2016 Southampton

S11. Gender, Sex and Minority [In]Equality in Archaeology: Pecha Kucha Presentations with Round Table Discussion

Session organizer:

Emily Stammitti (Independent researcher,

Session abstract:

The imbalance and inequality of gender, sex and minorities dominates the practice and study archaeology. Damning statistics about the ratio of male to female postgraduate researchers versus professoriate continue, and this is not taking into account the virtual lack of minorities in the commercial and academic sector. The reconsideration of gender in archaeology is finally widening as a subject of serious discussion and study. However, that there remains an inexplicable division and imbalance of women to men, featuring a stark lack of minority employment, in the daily practice of archaeology is problematic and symptomatic of the inherent role bias of more senior practitioners and hiring committees. Where are archaeology and her practitioners going wrong?

We seek papers that contribute to lively discussion of the subject of gender, sex and minority inequality in the workplace and academic environment, rather than those studies revolving around the interpretation of gender, sex and minority balances in the archaeological record. Without a fair and equitable system of representation, promotion and collaboration that involves all archaeologists, we cannot hope to untangle our shared past in a holistic and considerate way, befitting the bridge between science and the humanities.

This session, using the Pecha Kucha presentation method, is intended to provide a short and snappy set of visual aids and presentations revolving around the theme of imbalance and inequality, and the means through which we may create a more equal footing for everybody involved. In short, it is time to crash through the glass ceiling and not pull the ladder up behind us. Pecha Kucha presentations feature the use of 20-slides, shown and narrated for a maximum of 20-seconds each. The organisers have chosen this model to provide a harsh illustration of the short and interrupted nature of professionals when they are not white, cis-gendered men. Although we strongly encourage the submission of abstracts by the underrepresented demographics in archaeology, we will not discriminate against any applicants on the basis of their gender, sex or minority status.

The Pecha Kucha presentations will be followed by a round table discussion of the themes apparent, and the means through which archaeology can move forward in an equal and more balanced fashion. Our aim is the production of a published proceedings based on the presentations and collaborations resulting from this session.

Contributor abstracts:

Session Introduction; Welcome; Rules of Pecha Kucha and discussion

Emily Stammitti (Independent Researcher)

Archaeology’s Gender Trouble

Tara Collett (University of Oxford)

Where is archaeology and its practitioners going wrong? My presentation will focus on the processes that make gender invisible in science and the ways in which my personal experiences as a woman in archaeology and science can address the lack of gender conversation in our discipline. Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble frames my critique of gender's invisibility within archaeology and how this allows for dominant male hegemony to pervade the discourse. Intersectional feminism and its application to archaeology further addresses the multiplicity of viewpoints that can critique hegemonic power structures. The application of feminist standpoint theory to archaeology by Alison Wylie will be a pertinent focus as I demonstrate that marginalization, micro-aggressions, and institutionalized casual sexism are just a portion of the under-discussed attitudes towards women that are pervasive and damaging. These various modes of thought illuminate the ability for personal experiences to enter into a dialogue with archaeology, feminism, and queer theory. Archaeology is acquiescing to dominant thinking by ignoring our gender problems, which has the deleterious potential to shape research practices towards dominant styles of reasoning, allowing for unquestioned claims for what constitutes knowledge and which questions are significant.

Making Archaeology a Safe Workspace for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder

David Farrell-Banks (Heritage Studies, Newcastle University)

The provision of regular employment has been identified as a key aspect of wellbeing. For adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder [ASD] there are a number of barriers that may prevent them from gaining or maintaining employment, much of which stems from a lack of understanding amongst employers regarding the needs of adults with ASD. This paper will present recommendations for practicing archaeologists on how they contribute to creating an ASD friendly workspace within archaeological excavation work.

The recommendations are based on qualitative research conducted over the course of three months this summer. Interviews were conducted with adults with ASD, practicing archaeologists, museum staff, care providers, and researchers with an expertise in ASD. The recommendations relate to how archaeology can deal with the limited level of resource for adults with ASD, the diversity of ASD, social difference and anxiety and public understanding of ASD. The suggestions from these themes are then built into provisional guidelines for practising archaeologists to follow both when planning excavations, and during the work itself. In keeping with the Pecha Kucha method, this presentation will focus on quick fire recommendations which, it is hoped, will be feed into the round table discussion.

Gender (in)equalities in ancient Near Eastern studies: a retrospective look

Agnès Garcia-Ventura (Universitat de Barcelona, Spain)

During the 1980s and 1990s the visibility both of women in archaeology and of the archaeology of women in ancient Near Eastern studies increased notably. However, even though many women were working in archaeological digs, few of them were the directors of the missions. In addition, recent studies do not suggest that this trend is changing. Despite the growing number of women in academia, still few hold positions of responsibility or direct archaeological digs, as shown by the studies and initiatives led by Diane Bolger (2008) and by Beth Alpert Nakhai (2000 and 2011), among others.

It has been suggested that one of the possible solutions to this persistent situation is to promote the entry of gender studies into the “disciplinary mainstream”, something already done, to a certain extent in the last years. Nevertheless, the effects of this situation are twofold, one being potentially positive and the other potentially negative and several pros and cons may be identified.

In order to discuss these pros and cons, potentially positive and potentially negative effects and possible proposals to reverse the current inequality in terms of gender, in this communication I will present a brief overview of the several initiatives developed for the last 40 years, in ancient Near Eastern studies, aiming to promote the presence of women in archaeology and of the archaeology of women in an attempt to acknowledge their achievements as well as the reasons behind what may be interpreted as a limited success.

Open round-table discussion


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