Despite the growth and success of feminist archaeology, women in archaeology still face issues not necessarily encountered by their male counterparts in the 21st Century. Legacies of past discrimination, particularly the perceived and/or actual demands of family life, have resulted in disproportionate fewer women working at research institutions in many disciplines, including archaeology. This disturbing trend has profound implications for not only the direction of current archaeological research, but also the training of future scholars.

This blog is a forum for advocating for women archaeologists so that we can move beyond legacies of inequity to a future that strengthens a feminine voice in archaeology and a feminist perspective. We contend that the very practice of archaeology is skewed towards a masculine and hierarchical perspective that excludes consensus building and “minority opinions” when interpreting the past. We argue that the feminine voice brings unique and necessary elements to the discipline of archaeology, through values such as mentoring and collaboration. We also clarify that a feminist perspective is not limited to any one gender, class, race, ethnicity or sexuality. Rather a feminist perspective is a radical point of view; one that recognizes that women’s success professionally and personally is integrally tied to larger socio-political movements dedicated to the eradication of homophobia, racism, and androcentrism.

Our hope is to solicit advice, perspectives, and experiences from all realms of the archaeological profession- including tenure-track and adjunct faculty, CRM professionals, and those not currently employed or underemployed. The ultimate goal of the blog is to shift the realities of power experienced in the daily lives of women archaeologists by discussing, inventing and offering solutions to the challenges of professional life.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Student-Professor Relationships?

The January 2008 SAA Archaeological Record contained a self-report by Lewis Binford on his retirement activities. I found this piece disturbing in its apparent glorification of a romantic student-professor (or advisor) relationship. While I am not inherently opposed to such relationships, as long as they are consensual, I found the tone of the piece to be boastful and inappropriate for a professional newsletter.

On a positive note, I have used this piece in discussing professionalism with senior undergraduates. I do not tell them to avoid romantic relationships with their supervisors. Instead, we talk about why such relationships may not be a good idea.

Interestingly, while I know many female archaeologists who have become romantically involved with their male professors, I don't know any male archaeologists who have become romantically involved with their female professors.

1 comment:

  1. It's good to see other people also uncomfortable about the grad student in her early 20s becoming the 6th wife of a famous man. This is yet another reason to distrust Binford's judgment. Altogether, he not only was macho to the max, his version of archaeology is totally Man the Hunter. What's disturbing is how few archaeologists even today see that. So far as I've seen, he never referred to any work in archaeology-of-gender, not even the Frink-Weedman volume on women and stone tools. For that matter, he never had anything to do with WAC, where the session was held that led to the volume, nor with indigenous archaeologies, postcolonialism, etc. Nor did he ever acknowledge my 1993 paper in Research in
    Economic Anthropology, vol. 14, "How the Ancient Peigans Lived," pointing out how his vaunted studies of h-gs were nearly all of colonized peoples, and how inappropriate his term "foragers" is. My paper was solicited by the series editor, Barry Isaac.

    The literature about chilly climates, in the metaphorical sense, applies to archaeology. At the 2011 Chacmool conference, I gave a paper about chilly climates for ideas and work rejected by orthodoxy, and cited a 2002 book with a catchy title: Women in the Canadian Academic Tundra: Challenging the Chill. Indulging in a mild pun, I suggested that the tundra is not really a Barren Ground. Women as theorists are kept out on the chilly tundra - Alison Wylie is not really an exception because her degree and employment are as a philosopher of science. Hardly ever do we see a citation to Jane Holden Kelley and Marsha Hanen, 1988 book, Archaeology and the Methodology of Science. (Hanen is another philosopher of science, Kelley an archaeologist.)

    Several women archaeologists of my generation, including me, did ethnography also because we saw that knowing something about living people in the area we worked in, might give us insight into their forebears. Kelley, e.g., published Yaqui Women, a blast of a book. None of the men in our grad cohort did. Of course Kroeber and others in his generation did four fields, but that doesn't count, they lived before one had to specialize to get a job. Arnold Pilling did both, he was bisexual, active in the gay world (died of AIDS), so I think he doesn't count, either --I remember how surprised I was at an SAA meeting when I went to get some lunch and Arnold invited me to sit at his table and talk, men just didn't do that then, I learned a lot from him over that lunch about California First Nations and gender in archaeology. Southern California Indian men photographed wearing basket hats were not gay, they were wearing trophies traded or seized from relatively distant people whose women only wore basket hats, but the people of the men in the photo did not.

    What I see is that women still are not recognized as theorists, and the number of women in contract work is because contract work is held to be atheoretical, routine, sort of house-keeping the past.

    --Alice Kehoe