Gendered perspectives in archaeological narratives of the Danish Bronze Age: deconstructing the binary approach
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Jones, Megan Elizabeth
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Utilising a gender critical perspective augmented by statistical analysis, this thesis examines the binary approach customarily employed throughout archaeological narratives pertaining to the Danish Bronze Age. In respect to the recent development of feminist scholarship in archaeology regarding concepts of gender, identity and the body in prehistory, it is argued that a binary approach, which views prehistoric society as having been structured according to rigid male-female oppositions, places inappropriate restrictions upon evidence relevant to the study of gender in Bronze Age Denmark. To decipher the meaning encoded in any type of evidence related to gender ideology a perspective which emphasises contextual analysis rather than assumed heteronormativity is essential. In addition, statistical analyses of data from a representative sample of the mortuary record reveal that continuous implementation of the binary approach in the documentation of funerary remains has effectively corrupted the integrity of the evidence. The results of this investigation have significant consequences for the study of gender and societal organisation in the Danish Bronze Age. Gender categories valued by contemporary western ideology can no longer be grafted onto prehistoric society in archaeological investigations of the Bronze Age in Denmark. Moreover, traditional methods which use the objects in a grave to determine a burial’s sex can no longer be justifiably employed. Furthermore, analysis demonstrates that it is not possible to gain a comprehensive understanding of gender ideology from the mortuary data alone. Rather, through the application of current approaches to the study of gender in the past, osteological examination of the skeletal material must be revisited in conjunction with the analysis of evidence from elsewhere in the archaeological record. Thus, the potential variation concerning this period in Danish prehistory is greater than can be explained through the limitations of a binary approach, perhaps extending to evidence for the existence of an ambiguous gender identity in the society of Bronze Age Denmark.