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Journal Article

Visualizing Masculinities: The Gala, Hegemony, and Mesopotamian Iconography

Ilan Peled
Near Eastern Archaeology
Vol. 79, No. 3, Special Issue: Gender Archaeology (September 2016), pp. 158-165
DOI: 10.5615/neareastarch.79.3.0158
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Page Count: 8
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Visualizing Masculinities: The Gala, Hegemony, and Mesopotamian Iconography
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This article examines the gender image of the Mesopotamian cult attendant known as gala (Sumerian) / kalû (Akkadian) against the background of the theory of hegemonic masculinity, putting an emphasis on visual representations as sources of information. The gala/kalû was a performer in funerals, and later a professional lamenter in the cult of Inanna/Ištar. His gender identity has long been considered to have possessed ambiguous elements: effeminate, homoerotic, and the like. A more nuanced approach is offered here, whereby the gala/kalû's gender image is analyzed as a social construct of a non-hegemonic type of masculinity. To this end, visual representations are considered in addition to textual evidence.

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