This course examines some of the essentialist assumptions about gender held by archaeologists which have shaped, and continue to shape, scholarly and popular perceptions of the past. At the same time, considering the Judith Butler’s “Politics of Performativity”, it aims to demonstrate some of the ways in which current gender-based approaches can shed light on the socio-economic and political complexities of past historical cultures by engaging in a review of theory and methods in gender studies. Moreover, the course will include discussions of the politics of propaganda and media that influence the interpretation of archaeologists.
Specific case studies will be drawn from the historical dynasties of the Middle East dating from the first millennium B.C.E. to the modern era. We will build on an understanding of gender as a culturally constructed rather than biologically determined social category and emphasize an appreciation of the importance of contextual evidence for interpreting gender roles presented within the frames of “performativity” and “material culture”.