Honors College Theses

Publication Date



Anthropology (B.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

J. Matthew Compton


Over the past thirty years, feminist scholars in archaeology have gained a foothold in the discipline. Conkey and Spector's “Archaeology and the Study of Gender” (1984) is often credited with being the turning point for the topic of gender in archaeology. Still, there is more ground to gain. I argue for a fully engendered archaeology by understanding that achieving this will be difficult due to the past and current sociopolitics of American archaeology. Historically, mainstream archaeology has viewed feminist epistemologies, like those on which gender archaeology is based, as simply a standpoint, creating a disconnect identifying their importance. Despite these challenges, engendering archaeology through informed multi-theoretical approaches and feminist frameworks can reduce some ambiguity in the archaeological record. By refocusing our anthropological gaze, archaeologists can create spaces that promote self-worth for women and other members of marginalized groups, develop an understanding of the spectrum of gender differences to achieve social equity, and examine how gender hierarchies are maintained and produced for applied anthropological purposes of social equality. Including feminist frameworks creates an inclusive discipline capable of reconstructing a fragmented past based on a wide variety of human experiences. This paper is designed to act as a catalyst to re-examine how we conduct archaeological thinking, produce archaeological knowledge and authority , and accept and agree that identity is multifaceted. Using feminist epistemologies such as intersectionality and queer theory will produce interpretations of the past representative of the wide variety of human experiences.

Thesis Summary

This paper seeks to explore the stratigraphy and history of male-centric archaeological practice through the examination of American archaeology's history, the conflation of definitions concerning gender and feminist archaeology, archaeology's problems with biased interpretations of gender and how feminist epistemologies can help archaeologists move beyond the critique to produce a more inclusive and complete interpretation of the past.