Critique of Archaeological Reason
5. Excerpts and summaries

Joan M. Gero

Laerke Recht - September 2014

Excerpts from 1996 "Archaeological Practice and Gendered Encounters with Field Data"

gendered science p. 269      The construal of the pedestal story [where a male archaeologist was rewarded for his large, standardised pedetals and the narrow ones of a female archaeologist following the shape of the object were largely ignored] as one about power and gender not only undermines the seamless operation of cognitive autonomy in field practice. It raises questions about whether men and women conduct scientific research differently within the positivist, objectivist, rationalist ideology of science identified as masculinist. It touches on the "hush-hush topic" (Science 1993: 384) that science is not sexless, and that scientific practice is itself dominated by masculinist arrangements, modes of interaction and putting forth arguments, upheld by a litany of anecdotal accounts of masculinist styles of conducting research: more aggressive, more competitive, and more strongly hierarchical.
pp. 274-275      In the account of gender offered here, women archaeologists have attended differently, more closely, to the specificity of the phenomena they encounter, in making pedestals and making maps, and to the extent that they have done so, they have been disqualified from positions of cognitive authority, disadvantaged and disempowered within the male-identified epistemological framework of scientific archaeology. Yet the style of practice identified with women at Arroyo Seco, with its hesitancy to obliterate variance or to homogenize and standardize data presentation, its attention to idiosyncracy, has much to recommend itself.
binary logic p. 270      But the logical formulation of A/Not-A posits only one category as having a positive reality while the other category exists as a privation or absence of A. The structure of A/Not-A is such that a third term is impossible: everything and anything must be either A or Not A. ... Depending as they do on an empty excluded middle, dichotomous A/Not-A constructs obliterate gradation, indeterminancy, overlap, and ambiguity between categories; they deny qualifiers, context, and degree of intensity, stripping a subject of its specificity or variance.
diversity of cognitive styles p. 276      Defining a more inclusive, feminist archaeological practice, a task that awaits us in the future, will allow distinct cognitive styles to operate. That is not a danger. The danger, instead, is validating only a single research style, a purpotedly neutral but ultimately exclusionary and dismissive style.
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