Politics of Ethnography: Feminism and Anthropology First, patterns of male dominance, West and rest, have tended to restrict the study of “exotic” women.
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Presentation on theme: "Politics of Ethnography: Feminism and Anthropology First, patterns of male dominance, West and rest, have tended to restrict the study of “exotic” women."— Presentation transcript:
Politics of Ethnography: Feminism and Anthropology First, patterns of male dominance, West and rest, have tended to restrict the study of “exotic” women to female ethnographers--both because female Others often were not deemed important enough for male anthropologists to study, and because non-Western female worlds were often off-limits to strange males (Di Leonardo 1998: 149).
What is the relationship between feminism and anthropology? Ignorance of contribution of women in the discipline Anthropological genealogies (male oriented) Their contribution to reflexivity (personal experience or autobiography) ignored or appropriated (I.e. Powdermaker 1966 and Mead 1977)
Why has main stream anthropology been reluctant to acknowledge that gender makes a difference in ethnography?
Because: Considered less objective (associated with emotions) Considered confessional literature Considered outside of the generic “he” Considered outside the gender neutral “neo- positivist” paradigm
The positionality of women makes a difference Male ethnographer… Profane Economically unimportant Excluded Marginal Female ethnography… Central role Important in ritual Respected Non-marginal
Three layers Bias imported by the male ethnographer The bias inherent in the society studied The bias inherent in Western culture
Deconstruction of gender symbolism and sexual stereotypes Men associated with culture and women with nature; physiology Women social roles; domestic domains Concept of pollution
Deconstructing the structure of male bias by Focusing on women Building data: about women by women Reworking and redefining anthropological theory
Ardener (1975) and the theory of “Muted Groups” control over modes of expression Male dominated structures --ways of communicating (linguistic concepts) --ways of writing (mankind for humankind) --dominant ideology --different world views
The Challenges from without Minorities Women Decentred authority Forced to become reflexive
The reflexive turn” Crack in the Mirror by Myerhoff and Ruby 1982) to examine a field problem to examine anthropology itself to publicly examine the anthropologist's response to the field situation
Problems with the assumption of a privileged status (women studying women) Ghettoization of feminist anthropology --too specialized --image problem The assumption of a universal category of “women” --not the same in all cultures Perception of ethnocentrism --a bias in favor of one culture ( that of the woman anthrop)
Discussion Question What are the advantages and disadvantages of a feminist anthropology in the construction of ethnographic knowledge?