Retrospective Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Society for Cultural Anthropology
Of interest to: Students
Primary Theme: The Political
Secondary Theme: Inequality
Feminist anthropologists roared onto the scene in the 1970s and 1980s, playing a critical role in establishing the field of women’s studies. They analyzed variations in how gender was enacted around the globe, on the one hand, and the widespread and durable structures of patriarchy, on the other hand. Feminist anthropologists thereby raised consciousness about, and built analytical tools for analyzing, gender oppression and, to a lesser extent, liberation. Beginning with the influential article “Is Female to Male as Nature Is to Culture?” (1972), continuing through studies of hegemony, subjectivity, agency, power, and other key concepts in social theory (e.g., in Making Gender: The Politics and Erotics of Culture ), and more recently offering a study of films as cultural texts that grapple with the persistence of patriarchy as a form of power (“Too Soon for Post-Feminism: The Ongoing Life of Patriarchy in Neoliberal America” ), Sherry Ortner has sustained attention to gender as a political nexus.
This panel examines gender politics in several sites: the global security enterprise, the American organization, the practice of anthropological ethnography, digital media in India, and environmental policy and practice. With research in Europe, the Middle East, India, and the United States, and often with attention to transnational formations, these papers grapple with contradictory forms of gendered power, the weaponization of gender, the force of gender in capitalism, and, throughout, the politics of just how—not whether—gender is constituted with, and through, other forms of power and categories of knowledge production. Engaging in productive conversation with Sherry Ortner’s scholarship and its legacy, the papers on this panel contribute anew to the theory and practice of feminist anthropology.