As anthropology incorporates both cross cultural data and theories about the evolution of the society, it at first glance appears to be useful to feminists for their research in tracing out the root of women oppression and deprivation. The feminist critique in anthropology grew out of a specific concern with the neglect of women in this discipline. To explain and describe the inequality between the sexes feminism seeks help of anthropology with many questions. The answers will help feminists in the struggle of sexism in our society.
What are Feminism, Anthropology and Feminist Anthropology? According to two renowned feminists of South Asia, Kamala Basin and Night A Said, “Feminism for us today is an awareness of women’s oppression and exploitation in society, at work and within the family and conscious action by women and men to change this condition. ” According to P. C. Cotta, “Anthropology is the scientific humanistic study of the human species. It is the exploration of human diversity in time and space. ” According to Bronchial Mammalians, “Anthropology is the study of men embracing women. From the above definitions we come to know that feminism ND anthropology is interrelated as both disciplines deal with human being and their social constructions. Here comes the new term “Feminist Anthropology’ relating anthropology with feminism. According to H. Moore (1988), “Feminist anthropology is more than the study of women. It is the study of gender, of the interrelation between women and men and of the role of gender in structuring human societies, their histories, ideologies, economic system and political structure. ” Relationship between Anthropology and Feminism Women were not ignored in the traditional anthropology.
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The problem was in representation. Male ethnographers spoke of women as profane, economically unimportant and excluded from rituals. They misinterpret women. On the other hand, female researchers described the subsistence, the importance of women’s rituals and respectful way in which they were treated by men. Women were present in both sets of anthropology but in very different ways. The new anthropology of women thus began in the raillery’s’. Thus anthropologists started working on feminism by confronting the problem of how women were represented in anthropological writing.
They started working step by steeples step – identifying the existing researcher’s faults (e. G. Misinterpretation of women. ) 2nd step – identifying the main causes of seen as having three tiers. 1st one is bias imported by anthropologists, who bring various assumptions and expectations about the relations between men and women. 2nd one is bias inherent in the society. Women are considered subordinate to men in many societies and this view of gender relations is likely to be the one communicated to the acquiring anthropologists. And the final layer is bias inherent in Western ultra.
When researchers perceive the asymmetrical relations between women and men in the cultures, they assume such asymmetries to be analogous to their own cultural experience in the Western Culture. 3rd step – De-constructing this three tiered structure of male bias. This could be done by focusing on women, by studying and describing what women really do and by recording the statements, analyzing perceptions and attitudes of women themselves. But anthropologists also recognized that simply adding women to traditional anthropology would not resolve the problem.
So feminist anthropology is, therefore, faced with the much larger task of reworking and redefining anthropological theory. Feminist Anthropology can be divided into three approximate temporal categories: 1 . First Wave Or Suffrage Feminism(1850-1920) 1st wave remarked that most researches were done by men for men. Information was mainly collected by men, from men, women’s lives as seen and interpreted by men. 1st wave feminism pointed a completely new perspective including women’s voices. It added women perspective. One of the women who were fundamental to this event was Elsie Clews Parsons a renowned feminist anthropologist.
She introduced anthropology as a liberal education and broke the popular restriction against men and women working together. Her work Pueblo Indian Religion is considered a classic; here she gathered all her previous extensive work and that of other authors. Another pioneer anthropologist of first wave was Alice Fletcher. She was also interested in suffrage and helped found the Association for the Advancement of Women. Phyllis Jabberer was a pioneer of anthropological research on women in specific social and political contexts. She developed a systematic study of gender relationships in her book Women of the Grass fields.
She was the first to acknowledge the fact that existing economic models for development ignored women’s labor contribution. 2. Second wave Ferments Second wave feminism stretched from approximately 1920 to 1980. These feminists separated sex and gender as descriptive categories; previously they had been used interchangeably. Sex is defined as determined by biology and in turn effecting biology. Gender is seen as culturally defined. The category “woman” could unite all males, as it was considered the most significant role and therefore the strongest categorical identification.
Anthropologists tended to write as if all women had the same experiences and problems. Additionally, concepts were frequently set up as opposing dichotomies I. E. Sex/culture, men/women, work/home; this may have been convenient for comparison, but it did not allow for overlap between these terms. Diversity of cultures which allowed her work to help break down prejudices that were based on concepts of what is “natural” into an understanding of the importance of ultra in people’s development. Her major contribution was in the area or gender: separating biological vs… Ultra factors. Eleanor Lacked introduced the anthropology of women. She questioned the generalization of data gathering: the gap and assumptions of the informant. In the early sass’ Sally Slouch criticized anthropology being indoctrinate and ethnocentric. She questioned the assumption of “man the hunter vs… Women the gatherer” and their relative importance in human civilization. Galley Rubin questioned the representation of women and established the feminist anthropology. Sherry Rooter examined subordination of women across culture and through time.
She established the “practice theory’. Edwin Arden proposed a theory of “muted group”. He argued that muted groups are silenced by the structure of dominance. He considered women’s status as muted groups. 3. Third Wave Feminism (1980-Present) Third wave feminism extends from roughly 1980 to the present. It proposes the reversal of earlier separation of biology and culture by indicating that sex is also a social category like gender. Biology and cultural factors is complex and not straight award as was analyzed earlier.
Feminism in the sass and sass has centered on production and work, reproduction and sexuality, and gender. It introduced a debate around gender vs… Women’s study. In the sass women’s studies would be changed to gender studies, reflecting a more comprehensive perspective. Third wave feminism is still going ahead. Now women are heard, seen and accepted as a category previously ignored. In this wave feminist anthropologists are fighting for pay equity, right to work in the public and private sphere, right to make women’s choices etc. Women are not a homogeneous category.
Feminist anthropologists are trying to make a broader platform for women incorporating choices and options and realization of Persephone and autonomy. Misunderstanding and assumptions around women under religions, bride burning, colonialism, rape and sexual violence are the main concern of this wave. Thus anthropologists, feminists and feminist anthropologists are contributing to both the arena of feminism and anthropology. There are four overriding theories or lines of thinking that have influenced feminist anthropology over the last 18 years: 1 .
Practice Theory: Sherry Rooter introduced the theory. It is a reaction against Deuterium’s notion of the sacred and the profane, which assumed that women did not have a symbolic position. It also questions how systems can be reproduced despite their inequality, instability, and contradictions and it disputes the necessity of breaking everything into dichotomies. 2. Positional Theory: In the late sass the theory of positional developed as a reaction against cultural feminism, an essentialist view which suggests that there is a female essence and that female values should be validated.
In other words women promoting their female essence and its positive characteristics (e. G. Nurturing). In other words they can play by their own rules. This results in a “negative feminism” in the sense that they are tearing concepts down instead of building them up. Positional argues that such tactics may make the hard-won category of gender invisible once again. 3. Performance Theory: The third recent influence on feminist anthropology is performance theory – an extension of the anti-structuralism of the sass. It defines gender as the effect of discourse, and sex as the effect of gender.
The theory is characterized by a concern with the productive force rather than the meaning of discourse and by its privileging of ambiguity and indeterminacy. 4. Queer Theory: The fourth influence, queer theory, defines itself in opposition to the concept of “normalcy,” challenging the normative of heterosexuality, and highlighting the effects of colonization on sexual identity. Queer theory attempts to cut across traditions in gender studies. By these theories both anthropology and feminism tried to describe, analyze and sort out problems regarding women and their conditions, choices etc.