Rebecca L. Upton

in Anthropology

ISBN: 9780199766567
Published online January 2012 | | DOI:

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Gender is a key concept in the discipline of anthropology. Sex and gender are defined differently in anthropology, the former as grounded in perceived biological differences and the latter as the cultural constructions observed, performed, and understood in any given society, often based on those perceived biological differences. Throughout the 20th century and the rise of sociocultural anthropology, the meaning and significance of gender to the discipline has shifted. In early ethnographic studies, gender was often synonymous with kinship or family, and a monograph might include just a single chapter on women or family issues. Despite early female pioneers in the field, it was not until the 1970s and 1980s and the real rise of feminist anthropology that gender as a distinct area of theoretical and methodological interest took hold within the discipline. Women were no longer seen as a category of culture and society outside of the realm of the everyday. While some focused on divisions between the domestic and the public, feminist anthropologists and those interested in the study of gender began to challenge the simple “add women and stir” model of ethnography and sought to bring attention to structural inequalities, the role of economic disparities, global dimensions to gender politics, the role of language, sexuality and masculinity studies, and health and human rights. Gradually the most recent works in gender and anthropology came to encompass a wide range of perspectives that challenge Western or monolithic assumptions about women and the experience of gender. For example, non-Western writing on gender illustrates how varied the experience of feminism can be in contemporary contexts where religious beliefs, development experiences, and the very role of language can influence understandings of gender. The study of women, men, and the intersections of gender across cultures has become a key aspect of any holistic study or methodological approach in anthropology today.

Article.  14702 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology ; Human Evolution ; Medical Anthropology ; Physical Anthropology ; Social and Cultural Anthropology

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