ArticlePDF Available

Toward Decolonizing Gender

Authors:

Abstract

CATHERINE HODGE McCOID is Professor, Department of History and Anthropology, Central Missouri State University, Warrensburg, MO 64093.
A preview of the PDF is not available
... En contra de la creencia académica tradicional que las definió como un «ideal de belleza prehistórico» constituido a partir de la mirada masculina, estas pequeñas y milenarias estatuillas descubiertas a finales del siglo xix podrían ser radicalmente reconfiguradas desde otra perspectiva no androcéntrica. Sus atributos exagerados (la prominencia del vientre, torso anormalmente delgado, pechos grandes y colgantes, nalgas y muslos voluminosos, piernas cortas, pies pequeños y ausencia de rostro o cabeza agachada) han servido como evidencia para autoras como Leroy McDermott y Catherine Hodge McCoid (1996) de que «estas aparentes distorsiones de la anatomía se convierten en representaciones adecuadas si consideramos el cuerpo visto por una mujer que se mira a sí misma» (McCoy y McDermott: 320) (vid. imagen 9). ...
... Entonces, ¿por qué no podemos plantear posibilidades que se escapen del binarismo de género en la sociedad precolonial del archipiélago canario? Pese a que Imagen 9. Comparación entre las figuras, entre las que está la Venus de Willendorf, con fotografías de una mujer moderna embarazada extraídas del trabajo de McDermott y McCoid (1996). ...
... In terms of sculptural art, there is no evidence to suggest that the statuettes were created exclusively by males, as this is not a human universal. In contrast, McCoid and McDermott (1996) suggested that the objects were made by women and for women, as a form of selfrepresentation. According to them, the statuettes and bas-reliefs could have functioned as obstetrical aides according to the authors, allowing females to keep track of their pregnancies. ...
Chapter
Paleolithic art emerges in Europe around 32,000 years before present. It is found on cave walls and in the form of sculptures and pendants. Since its discovery in the late 1800s, interpretations of why the art was made and what it meant to our ancestors have been biased by the sex of the researcher and the sociopolitical climate. Early interpretations by males suggested that Paleolithic imagery was created by males and for males. Later, females challenged the assumptions of their male predecessors, suggesting that women may have created artwork and emphasized the strength of women. Recent evidence suggests that both sexes participated in creating art, and that even young children were active in this endeavor as well.
... Since the majority of the statuettes is female and is nude, this has led many researchers to suggest that the fi gurines were created for a uniform same purpose (Soffer and Praslov 1993 ). Early interpretations include to guard property (Von Koeningswald 1972 ), to promote alliance networks (Gamble 1982 ), for use as teaching or obstetrical aides (McCoid and McDermott 1996 ), for fertility magic (Reinach 1903 , Count Bégouen 1925 ), to represent Paleo-erotica (Guthrie 2005 ), or to represent a shared belief in a mother goddess (Hawkes and Wolley 1963 ; Levy 1948 ; Markale 1999 ; Hawkes and Wolley 1963 ). However, few studies (see Gvozdover 1995 for an exception) analyze the statuettes at an individual level and instead simply promote a hypothesis based on assumed stylistic similarities. ...
Chapter
Numerous studies have interpreted the anthropomorphic " Venus " statu-ettes of the Gravettian. However, few of these studies have scrutinized the fi gurines at an individual level or used quantitative analyses in order to understand similarities within sites or between regions. This study tests two hypotheses. The fi rst one, by Leroi-Gourhan, suggests that the Gravettian statuettes share core similarities regardless of where they were created. If correct, statuettes should not be grouped according to the region that they were made. The second hypothesis, by Gvozdover, suggests a Kostenki-Avdeevo unity. Her hypothesis suggests blending among cultures in the Russian Plains and that there are " types " of statuettes that are not restricted to a particular site. Here cladistics methods are used in order to understand whether ethnogenesis (blending) or cladogenesis (branching) has occurred in the production of " Venus " making. Results confi rm and extend Gvozdover's hypothesis suggesting cultural and ideological connections for " Venus " making in the Russian Plains and also support the uniqueness of a few European statuettes.
Article
Gimbutas’ topicalisation of gynocentrism was of great significance in stimulating the study of figurines, influencing the humanities beyond archaeology, as well as a variety of international socio-political movements. The creations have a long tradition of being linked to fertility and suffer a predominantly one-sided treatment in research. In this context, the intellectual history of the interpretation of prehistoric social living conditions is analysed, critically questioned and the extent to which historically evolved role models are present in past and recent research is examined. On the basis of selected examples, the methods of ethnological analogy and stylistic analysis are used to contribute to the interpretation of the decorations of the SE European Neolithic material. Additionally, an application-related interpretation is proposed for the Cucuteni-Tripolye figurines of the Poduri set. The second part addresses the impact history of Gimbutas’ opus. Regardless of the justified methodological criticism, its various imprints on e. g. ethnography, feminist studies, as well as outside academia will be acknowledged. The contributions profoundly inspired a variety of societal currents in the USA, Germany and post-socialist Lithuania. Keywords: Gimbutas, Lithuania, figurines, tattoo, body modification, ancestors, feminist movement.
Article
In the last 20 years, demography has re-emerged as a key research area within archaeology. This research has refined archaeological demographic methods and examined the relationships between demographic, cultural and environmental change. Here, I discuss how the results of the growing corpus of archaeological demographic studies can contribute to gender archaeology, aiding the incorporation of women into narratives of the past. By considering the important role of women in the demographic regimes of small-scale societies, I explain how archaeological demography can provide insights into the behaviour and lives of women, without relying on the often problematic identification of gendered artefacts, activities and/or places. Archaeological demography as a tool for gender archaeology also permits a move away from the female empiricism of simply adding women into archaeological narratives, to provide an alternative framework for the analysis of gender roles and practices. I demonstrate the feasibility and benefits of this approach using an example from the Upper Palaeolithic of southwestern France.
Chapter
Whatever the origins of the impulse to care for others, canvassed in Chapter 4, the elements involved in providing health-related care are indisputably the products of conscious, purposeful, goal-directed behaviour by caregivers. The content and outcomes of this care will also be shaped by the care-recipient, through their actions in negotiating and cooperating (or not) with those offering this care. Chapter 5 elaborates the central role of theory from the archaeologies of agency and identity in bioarchaeology of care analysis. In doing so, it explicates the theoretical foundations of Stage 4 of the bioarchaeology of care methodology, which proposes a framework for organising and understanding the decision-making practices and interpersonal relationships that underlie the giving and receiving of care.
Article
Full-text available
Prehistoric human figurines in general and female figurines in particular have been of long-standing interest to archaeologists, but there has been considerable debate about their function. Although early human figurines are often viewed as a corpus, there is considerable variety in body proportions, forms and artistic styles across the vast geographical areas and temporal periods for which they are attested. Here, a metric analysis using the Root Mean Square Deviation (RMSD) technique is used to compare a figurine from Tepe Sarab with contemporaneous and earlier figurines from a broad geographical area. The results of this analysis indicate that there is a clear division in style and body proportions between the female figurines that are made during the Palaeolithic and Neolithic periods. Moreover, our results indicate that there are clear differences in style and body proportions between figurines found in Central Europe and the Near East.
Article
This paper discusses how the making of art – the materials, techniques, and gestures used during production – was culturally meaningful and socially variable during the European Upper Palaeolithic. Although much previous research has focused on persistent and functional innovations, studying small-scale and ephemeral innovations reveals the extent to which technological experimentation had an impact on artistic expression. Comparing the record of several archaeological sites purported to be in the same technocomplex helps to differentiate the presence of ‘social boundaries’ (sensu Dietler and Herbich 1998) and discern the extent to which groups shared knowledge and cultural, technical, and artistic traditions. In this paper, ceramic art from two distinct contexts (Czech Republic at c. 30,000 BP and Croatia at c. 17,500 BP) will be discussed to explore the role of small-scale innovation in shaping and transforming Upper Palaeolithic art and society.
Article
Full-text available
This study explores the logical possibility that the first images of the human figure were made from the point of view of self rather than other and concludes that Upper Paleolithic ''Venus'' figurines represent ordinary women's views of their own bodies. Using photographic simulations of what a modem female sees of herself, it demonstrates that the anatomical omissions and proportional distortions found in Pavlovian, Kostenkian, and Gravettian female figurines occur naturally in autogenous, or self-generated, information. Thus the size, shape, and articulation of body parts in early figurines appear to be determined by their relationship to the eyes and the relative effects of foreshortening, distance, and occlusion rather than by symbolic distortion. Previous theories of function are summarized to provide an interpretive context, and contemporary claims of stylistic heterogeneity and frequent male representations are examined and found unsubstantiated by a restudy of the originals. As self-portraits of women at different stages of life, these early figurines embodied obstetrical and gynecological information and probably signified an advance in women's self-conscious control over the material conditions of their reproductive lives.
Article
Full-text available
In 1895 Piette published a description of a group of small ivory female figurines recovered from excavations in the Grotte du Pape, Brassempouy. Subsequent finds of female figurines from all over Europe have led to several suggestions to account for their similar design. This article uses these objects as a convenient focus for a wider discussion on corresppondence in style among the material culture assemblages of palaeolithic Europe. They are seen as part of a system through which communication was achieved by adherence to a set of stylistic rules. The appearance of items showing widespread stylistic similarity is thought to correspond with specialised environments that required open interaction network. Some implications of the means by which information was organised in such systems and their bearing on questions of cultural/social evolution are indicated.
Article
Full-text available
This review article summarizes some of the major research on “paleolithic art” since 1979, with the explicit intent of evaluating how this research has contributed to the search for the meaning of paleolithic art. The article reviews recent major publications and argues that the emphasis on the diversity of the materials and on their contexts is changing the scope and interpretive possibilities for the study of “paleolithic art.” Particular attention is given to studies that have focused on aspects of the technologies that generated the imagery.
Article
Full-text available
The invention of fat-burning lamps toward the end of the Ice Age helped to transform European culture. It coincided with several other major technological advances.
Article
Upper Paleolithic Venus figurines are traditionally explained as symbols glorifying female fertility. This study suggests the hypothesis that Venuses represent women throughout their entire adult life, not just when they are pregnant; therefore, it is womanhood rather than motherhood that is symbolically recognized or honored. First an estimate is made of the age group (pre-childbearing, reproductive, post-childbearing) of each of the 188 extant Venuses. Contemporary hunter-gatherers are then used to estimate the age structure of Upper Paleolithic groups. A comparison of the proportions of both Venuses and contemporary hunter-gatherer women estimated to be in the three reproduction-related age groups results in statistically significant support for the womanhood hypothesis. Motivations for sculpting the figurines, and their functions, are suggested by considering the probable economic, social, and reproductive roles of Paleolithic women.
Article
Whilst there is no evidence that human representations in Palaeolithic art are an accurate reflection of contemporary social demography, they can yield valuable data on Palaeolithic populations and their social organization. The paper analyses a group of Palaeolithic figures which show that women seem to have been accorded a privileged role in hunter-gatherer society, based on their physiological functions as mothers and sexual and social partners.
Article
The recent field work of Soviet archeologists has produced many interesting examples of Paleolithic art. In particular, the material on sculptural representations of the female has been appreciably expanded.
Article
Discussion des origines biologiques et comportementales des populations humaines modernes : recherches sur la transition entre les populations " archaiques " et les populations " modernes " d'un point de vue anatomique. Revue des donnees fournies par les recentes etudes sur l'ADN. L'apport du crâne neandertalien châtelperronien de Saint-Cesaire. La repartition du Châtelperronien en Europe. Contemporaneite des derniers neandertaliens et des premiers sapiens sapiens