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Politics of Ethnography: Feminism and Anthropology

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1 Politics of Ethnography: Feminism and Anthropology
The Gendered nature of our fields has been left to women anthropologists to ponder and feminist scholars to critique, and even then their work has been largely ignored. Neither the burgeoning body of ethnographic literature by women writers nor feminist theorising about the difference gender makes have set the discipline agenda (Bell 1993: 1).

2 What is the relationship between feminism and anthropology?
Ignorance of contribution of women in the discipline Anthropological genealogies(male oriented)) Their contribution to reflexivity (ignored or appropriated)

3 Women and reflexivity Powdermaker (1966) Mead (1977)
Personal experience (autobiography)

4 The Challenges from without
Minorities Women Decentred authority Forced to become reflexive

5 The reflexive turn Crack in the Mirror by Myerhoff and Ruby 1982)
to examine a field problem to examine anthropology itself to look at anthropology as a tool for gathering data to publicly examine the anthropologist's response to the field situation

6 On Australian Aboriginal Women
Male ethnographer… Profane Economically unimportant Excluded Marginal Female ethnography… Central role Important in ritual Respected Non-marginal

7 Three layers Bias imported by the male ethnographer
The bias inherent in the society studied The bias inherent in Western culture

8 Deconstruction of gender symbolism and sexual stereotypes
Men associated with culture and women with nature; physiology Women social roles; domestic domains Concept of pollution

9 Deconstructing the structure of male bias by
Focusing on women Building data: about women by women Reworking and redefining anthropological theory

10 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

11 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)

12 Discussion Question What are the advantages and disadvantages of a feminist anthropology in ethnographic knowledge?

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