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On the Importance of Difference: Re-Envisioning Sex and Gender in Ancient Mesoamerica

Miranda K. Stockett
World Archaeology
Vol. 37, No. 4, Debates in "World Archaeology" (Dec., 2005), pp. 566-578
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40025092
Page Count: 13
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On the Importance of Difference: Re-Envisioning Sex and Gender in Ancient Mesoamerica
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Abstract

Models currently employed to investigate gender ideologies and practices in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica tend to rely on binary constructions. As a result, if applied uncritically to archaeological case studies, they may obscure variability and marginalize the importance of difference in the lives of past peoples. I propose that models such as gender hierarchy and complementarity have been strongly impacted upon by processes of conquest and colonization, which may render them inappropriate frameworks for investigating ancient societies. I conclude that we should turn our attention away from debating the relative merits of these models and focus instead on the exploration of pre-Columbian identity. By considering the ways that identity served to articulate individuals into groups, as well as distinguish the individual from the group, we can avoid creating grand narratives about past gender ideologies and appropriately situate the role of gendered difference within its larger social context.

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