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The Interplay of Evidential Constraints and Political Interests: Recent Archaeological Research on Gender

Alison Wylie
American Antiquity
Vol. 57, No. 1 (Jan., 1992), pp. 15-35
DOI: 10.2307/2694833
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2694833
Page Count: 21
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The Interplay of Evidential Constraints and Political Interests: Recent Archaeological Research on Gender
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Abstract

In the last few years, conference programs and publications have begun to appear that reflect a growing interest, among North American archaeologists, in research initiatives that focus on women and gender as subjects of investigation. One of the central questions raised by these developments has to do with their "objectivity" and that of archaeology as a whole. To the extent that they are inspired by or aligned with explicitly political (feminist) commitments, the question arises of whether they do not themselves represent an inherently partial and interest-specific standpoint, and whether their acceptance does not undermine the commitment to value neutrality and empirical rigor associated with scientific approaches to archaeology. I will argue that, in fact, a feminist perspective, among other critical, explicitly political perspectives, may well enhance the conceptual integrity and empirical adequacy of archaeological knowledge claims, where this is centrally a matter of deploying evidential constraints.

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