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Politics of Ethnography: Feminism and Anthropology First, patterns of male dominance, West and rest, have tended to restrict the study of “exotic” women to female ethnographers--both because female Others often were not deemed important enough for male anthropologists to study, and because non-Western female worlds were often off-limits to strange males (Di Leonardo 1998: 149). What is the relationship between feminism and anthropology? • Ignorance of contribution of women in the discipline • Anthropological genealogies (male oriented) • Their contribution to reflexivity (personal experience or autobiography) ignored or appropriated (I.e. Powdermaker 1966 and Mead 1977) Why has main stream anthropology been reluctant to acknowledge that gender makes a difference in ethnography? Because: • Considered less objective (associated with emotions) • Considered confessional literature • Considered outside of the generic “he” • Considered outside the gender neutral “neopositivist” paradigm The positionality of women makes a difference • Male ethnographer… • Profane • Economically unimportant • Excluded • Marginal • Female ethnography… • Central role • Important in ritual • Respected • Non-marginal Three layers • Bias imported by the male ethnographer • The bias inherent in the society studied • The bias inherent in Western culture Deconstruction of gender symbolism and sexual stereotypes • Men associated with culture and women with nature; physiology • Women social roles; domestic domains • Concept of pollution Deconstructing the structure of male bias by • Focusing on women • Building data: about women by women • Reworking and redefining anthropological theory Ardener (1975) and the theory of “Muted Groups” • • • • • • control over modes of expression Male dominated structures --ways of communicating (linguistic concepts) --ways of writing (mankind for humankind) --dominant ideology --different world views The Challenges from without • • • • Minorities Women Decentred authority Forced to become reflexive The reflexive turn” Crack in the Mirror by Myerhoff and Ruby 1982) • to examine a field problem • to examine anthropology itself • to publicly examine the anthropologist's response to the field situation Problems with the assumption of a privileged status (women studying women) • • • • • • Ghettoization of feminist anthropology --too specialized --image problem The assumption of a universal category of “women” --not the same in all cultures Perception of ethnocentrism --a bias in favor of one culture ( that of the woman anthrop) Discussion Question • What are the advantages and disadvantages of a feminist anthropology in the construction of ethnographic knowledge?