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Feminist anthropology and kinship

Feminist anthropology and kinship

Ryan Schram

ANTH 2654: Forms of Families

10 September 2015

Available at http://anthro.rschram.org/2654/7

Lecture outline

  • The matrilineal puzzle, according to Audrey Richards.
    • Why is this puzzling? What do you have to assume is true?
  • Gender in anthropology
    • Margaret Mead: Gender is not universal
  • Feminist anthropology: Ethnography has a male bias
    • In many societies, women are not available to talk to anthropologists
    • Key informants tend to be men, since in many societies, men travel more.
    • Male ethnographers may not be permitted to talk to women. Even female anthropologists may be treated as if they were men.
    • Anthropological theory assumed that male kinship statuses were more important, and hence male informants would know more about society.
    • Early feminist anthropology sought to draw attention to and redress this bias.
  • Feminist anthropology: Male domination
    • Patriarchy itself is a social fact, and can be explained as such.
    • Patriarchy defined:
      • Ideologies of male superiority or female inferiority.
      • Symbols of gender in which female is associated with danger.
      • Exclusion of women from power and valued social positions.
      • Men seem to stand for society as a whole.
  • Criticism of Ortner
    • Not all societies are hierarchical. Egalitarian societies tend to have more fluid divisions of labor and more personal autonomy for men and women.
    • The myth of matriarchy. Just because men rule does not mean that men believe that they have a natural right to rule.
    • Women's power is invisible. Women are supreme in the “female domain.”
2654/7.txt · Last modified: 2021/06/29 02:27 by