Gender Studies and Anthropology

 by Ben Michaels


              Since the 1960s and 1970s, when women’s and gender studies first began to form out of second-wave feminist critiques of an androcentric academic arena, anthropology has played a significant role in informing as well as being informed by the work of gender/women’s studies scholars.  This paper provides a brief look at the interrelationship between anthropology and gender studies by focusing on various scholarly associations, publications and academic departments in which the influences that the two fields have upon one another are articulated.


  • Associations with overlapping membership

There are a number of associations for academics and other professionals who are interested in

Anthropology and Gender Studies.  Among these are the following: American Anthropological Association, American Ethnological Society, Association for Feminist Anthropology, National Women’s Studies Association, Sexuality Studies and Anthropology Interest Group, Society for Cultural Anthropology, Society of Lesbian and Gay Anthropologists, Society for Psychological Anthropology.

  • Joint PhD, Masters or BA programs

There are also a number of schools that offer joint programs in Gender/Women’s Studies and Anthropology.  Brandeis University offers a Joint Masters degree in Anthropology and Women’s Studies, while the University of Toronto offers a Collaborative Graduate Program in Anthropology and Women’s Studies that grants both Masters and doctoral degrees.  The University of Illinois-Chicago offers graduate-level degrees with an Interdepartmental Concentration in Gender and Women’s Studies and Anthropology, and American University offers a doctoral degree in Anthropology with a Concentration in Race, Gender, and Social Justice.  Similarly, the California Institute of Integral Studies offers an M.A. in Cultural Anthropology and Social Transformation with an Emphasis in Gender, Ecology, and Society. More universities, however, have courses that are cross-listed between the Anthropology and Gender Studies Departments, which may count toward undergraduate degrees in both areas.   

  • Journals, newsletters and book series which combine the two disciplines


There are several book series that combine the research of Anthropology and Gender Studies.  Some of these are: Culture, Mind, and Society (Society for Psychological Anthropology), Women and International Development Publication Series (Michigan State University), Women in Culture and Society Series (University of Chicago Press), Worlds of Desire: The Chicago Series on Sexuality, Gender, and Culture (University of Chicago Press).


Journals that combine Anthropology and Gender Studies include:

American Anthropologist - American Ethnologist - Annual Review of Anthropology – Anthropological Quarterly - Anthropology and Humanism Quarterly - Anthropology News – Body and Society - Critique of Anthropology - Cross-Cultural Research - Cultural Anthropology - Cultural Studies - Current Anthropology – Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies - Ethnography - Ethnohistory – Ethnology - Ethos – European Journal of Womens Studies - Feminist Africa – Feminist Review - Feminist Studies - Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies – Gender and Education - Gender & Society - Gender Studies – GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies - Human Nature: An Interdisciplinary Biosocial Perspective - Journal of Anthropological Research - Journal of Gender Studies – Journal of Homosexuality - Journal of Sex Research – Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute - Journal of Womens Health & Gender-Based Medicine – Medical Anthropology Quarterly – Men and Masculinities - Sex Roles - Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society – Social Science Quarterly - Social Science Research – Theory Culture & Society - Voices –Women’s Studies International Forum - Women’s Studies Quarterly -


  • Important recent conferences or seminars which combine the disciplines:


Each year, the American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting has gender studies-related symposia, and the Annual Conference of the National Women’s Studies Association is a meeting that addresses issues of interest to anthropologists.  Some upcoming conferences that combine the two disciplines are the Gender, Race, Ethnicity & Power in Maritime America conference, sponsored by the Mystic Seaport Museum, Inc., and the Frank C. Munson Institute of American Maritime Studies, and the Suffrage, Gender and Citizenship conference, coordinated by the History Department of the University of Tampere in Finland, which are both in October of 2006, as well as the Global Feminisms Conference, hosted by Washington University in St. Louis, which is in April of 2006.


  • Major books which have a major contemporary influence on the two fields


Bonvillain, Nancy

  2001  Women and Men: Cultural Constructs of Gender, 3rd Ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.


*Butler, Judith

  1990  Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge.

  1993  Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex”. New York: Routledge.


Di Leonardo, Micaela, ed.

  1991  Gender at the Crossroads of Knowledge: Feminist Anthropology in the Postmodern Era. Berkeley: University of California Press.


*Lamphere, Louise, Helena Ragone and Patricia Zavella, eds.

  1997  Situated Lives: Gender and Culture in Everyday Life. New York: Routledge.


*Lancaster, Roger N. and Micaela Di Leonardo, eds.

  1997  The Gender/Sexuality Reader: Culture, History, Political Economy. New York: Routledge.


Lewin, Ellen

  2002  Out in Theory: The Emergence of Lesbian and Gay Anthropology. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.


*Mascia-Lees, Frances E. and Nancy Johnson Black

  2000  Gender and Anthropology. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press.


McClaurin, Irma, ed.

  2001  Black Feminist Anthropology: Theory, Politics, Praxis, and Poetics. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.


*Morgan, Sandra, ed.

  1989  Gender and Anthropology: Critical Reviews for Research and Teaching. Washington, D.C.: American Anthropological Association.


Nagl-Docekal, Herta

  2004  Feminist Philosophy. Boulder: Westview Press.


Nanda, Serena

  2000  Gender Diversity: Crosscultural Variations. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press.


Robertson, Jennifer

  • Same-Sex Cultures and Sexualities: An Anthropological Reader. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub.

 Warren, Carol A.B. and Jennifer Kay Hackney, eds.

  2000  Gender Issues in Ethnography. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.


Williams, Christine

  • Feminist Views of the Social Sciences. Thousands Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. 
  • Key individuals who seem to play a role in connecting the two disciplines


Lila Abu-Lughod

  • Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University
  • Received her PhD from Harvard University in 1984
  • Researches Middle Eastern popular culture, gender and religion


Ruth Behar

  • Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan
  • Received her PhD from Princeton in 1983
  • Studies gender and women’s issues in Latino populations


A. Lynn Bolles

  • Professor of Women’s Studies at University of Maryland, affiliate faculty with Anthropology
  • Received her PhD in 1981 from Rutgers
  • Studies women and gender in the Caribbean


Jean Comaroff

  • Professor of Anthropology at the University of Chicago
  • Received her PhD from the London School of Economics in 1974
  • Has contributed to gender studies of South Africa


Micaela di Leonardo

  • Professor of Anthropology and Performance Studies at Northwestern University
  • Received her PhD from Berkeley in 1981
  • Regularly publishes on Gender/Sexuality in New Haven, CT where she does her fieldwork


Susan Gal

  • Professor of Anthropology and Linguistics at Chicago
  • Received her PhD from Berkeley in 1976
  • Publishes on the relationships between language and gender


Matthew C. Gutmann

  • Associate Professor of Anthropology at Brown University
  • Received his PhD from Berkeley in 1995
  • Studies gender and sexuality among Latinos in the US


Michael S. Kimmel

  • Professor of Sociology at SUNY Stony Brook
  • Received his PhD from Berkeley in 1981
  • A sociologist who researches masculinity and gender, and whose work is read by anthropologists


Don Kulick

  • Professor of Anthropology, Director of the Gender and Sexuality Studies Program and Director of the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at NYU
  • Received his PhD from Stockholm University in 1990
  • Publishes on language and gender, queer theory, prostitution, transgenderism, etc., and has done fieldwork in various countries/continents


Louise Lamphere

  • Professor of Anthropology at University of New Mexico
  • Received her PhD from Harvard University in 1968
  • Researches gender in the US (Southwest, New England)


Roger N. Lancaster      

  • Professor of Anthropology and Cultural Studies at George Mason University
  • Received his PhD from Berkeley in 1987
  • Regularly publishes on Gender and Sexuality, Lesbigay issues in North and Latin America                                         

Charlene E. Makley

  • Professor of Anthropology at Reed College
  • Studies gender and feminist theory in East Asia


Henrietta L. Moore

  • Professor of Social Anthropology at the London School of Economics
  • A leading theorist of gender in Social Anthropology, works in Africa


Sandra Morgen

  • Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Center for the Study of Women in Society at the University of Oregon
  • Received her PhD from University of North Carolina in 1982
  • Publishes on women’s issues and gender in the United States


Sherry Ortner

  • Professor of Anthropology at UCLA
  • Received her PhD from Chicago in 1970
  • Regularly publishes on feminist theory and Gender/Sexuality Studies


Jennifer Robertson

  • Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan, with a “dry” appointment as Professor of Women’s Studies
  • Received her PhD from Cornell in 1985
  • Researches gender and sexuality, among other subjects, and works primarily in Japan


Gayle Rubin

  • Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan
  • Received her PhD from Michigan in 1994
  • Publishes on Gender/Sexuality Studies and Gay/Lesbian Ethnography


Peggy Reeves Sanday

  • Currently, R. Jean Brownlee Endowed Term Chair at the University of Pennsylvania and formerly Professor of Anthropology
  • Received her PhD from the University of Pittsburgh in 1966
  • Some of her main publications have been in the areas of  Women’s Studies, Anthropology of Gender and Sexual Culture


Nancy Scheper-Hughes

  • Professor of Anthropology at Berkeley
  • Received her PhD from Berkeley in 1976
  • Publishes on the anthropology of motherhood and childhood, and theory of the body
  • Websites or other online resources which take the reader to other information


Gender Studies is growing discipline, as women’s studies programs expand their areas of expertise to include all aspects of gender; and the field is becoming ever more professionalized with new degree-granting programs being created – and IU, which will begin offering a Gender Studies PhD track in the fall of 2006, is a good example of this. Anthropologists interested in feminist theory and the social roles of women across cultures were some of the earliest contributors to the creation of women’s studies programs in the U.S.  As a result, the discipline has been informed to a considerable degree by anthropological theory and the ethnographic method; and one can expect to find many scholars doing interdisciplinary work that contributes to both fields.

 A survey of departmental websites from a sample of major and minor academic institutions suggests a fairly high degree of formal faculty networks, such as joint appointments and affiliate positions, between anthropology and gender/women’s studies departments in institutions where both departments exist. The overwhelming majority of these are anthropology professors serving as adjuncts to gender studies departments rather than the other way around. This likely has to do with the fact that most gender and women’s studies departments started out as small interdisciplinary programs that depended on faculty drawn from many other disciplines to teach courses.

A search of faculty CVs as well as anthropologists’ profiles on the AAA online Guide to Departments reveals an even greater number of anthropologists who, while having no formal connections to gender studies departments, are working on distinctly gender related topics and have either written about or teach courses on gender related issues from the anthropological perspective.

  • Sample of major and minor universities – joint appointed/interdisciplinary faculty

Major Universities:


University of Pennsylvania

-Core Faculty and Lecturers/Research Associates:  23

              -Adjunct Faculty:          20 (0 from Women’s Studies)

-Emeritus Faculty:         9

-Anthropologists interested in Gender/Women’s Studies: 5

  • Areas of Cross-Over with Gender/Women’s Studies: gender and archaeology; sexual culture, rape, women’s studies; feminism, feminist theory, gender; gender and women in South Africa; sex and gender, psychological anthropology

-Core Faculty:               0

              -Affiliated Faculty:       108 (4 from anthropology department and 1 other with anthropology PhD)


Indiana University

-Core Faculty:                 35

-Adjunct Faculty:          25 (1 from Gender Studies)

-Emeritus Faculty:         5

-Anthropologists interested in Gender Studies: 6

  • Areas of Cross-Over: gender in Africa; women in post-Soviet Ukraine; women in Africa, beauty pageants; Mesoamerica and gender; gender and archaeology
  • Gender Studies: major, minor, PhD minor, first PhD program in nation beginning Fall 2006

-Core Faculty:               12 (including 3 anthropologists with joint appointments)

-Affiliated Faculty:       19 (1 from anthropology department)

University of California-Berkeley

-Core Faculty:               28

-Affiliated Faculty/Researchers:  18    

-Emeritus Faculty:         15

-Visiting Faculty/Scholars and Post-Docs:  18

-Anthropologists interested in Gender/Women’s Studies:  9

 -Areas of Cross-Over:  homosexuality and contemporary India; gender studies in archaeology; gender relations surrounding plant use; gender and lesbian kinship; Women in Islamic cultures; feminist practice of archaeology; archaeology and ethnohistory of gender in 29th century America; contemporary family organization

  • Gender & Women’s Studies:  major, minor, Designated Emphasis in Women, Gender, and Sexuality for graduate students of other majors

-Core Faculty:                 6           

-Lecturers:                       5

-Post-Docs:                     2

-Affiliated Faculty:       73 (8 Anthropologists)


Liberal Arts: Davidson College

-Core Faculty:               5

-Adjunct Faculty:          0

-Emeritus Faculty:         0

-Anthropologists interested in Gender/Women’s Studies:  0

  • Davidson College does not have a Gender/Women’s Studies Department. 


Minor Universities:

University at Albany (SUNY)

-Core Faculty:               18

-Adjunct Faculty:          0

-Emeritus Faculty:         4

-Anthropologists interested in Gender/Women’s Studies:  4

  • Areas of Cross-Over:  Gender relations, Maya women; feminist studies, motherhood, pregnancy and disabled children; gender issues and Mesoamerica; archaeology of gender; feminist theory, racism and sexism

-Core Faculty:               6

-Joint Faculty:               7 (0 from Anthropology)


Kansas State University

-Core Faculty:               7

-Adjunct Faculty:          4 (0 from Women’s Studies)

-Emeritus Faculty:         2

-Anthropologists interested in Gender/Women’s Studies:  1

  • Areas of Cross-Over:  gender in cross-cultural perspective
  • Women’s Studies: major, minor, Graduate Certificate for those enrolled in degree-granting graduate programs

-Core Faculty:               4

-Affiliated Faculty:       29 (0 from Anthropology)



University of Wyoming

-Core Faculty:               13

-Adjunct Faculty:          5 (0 from Women’s Studies)

-Emeritus Faculty:         2

-Anthropologists interested in Gender/Women’s Studies:  2

  • Areas of Cross-Over: male and female labor in foraging societies; pageantry in the US

-Core Faculty:               3

-Adjunct Faculty:          19 (1 from anthropology department)

-Emeritus Faculty:         0

 Liberal Arts: Juniata College

-Core Faculty:               6 (only 1 anthropologist)

              -Adjunct Faculty:          0 

              -Emeritus Faculty:         0

  • Juniata College does not have a Women’s or Gender Studies Department.  The only anthropologist at Juniata does not research gender studies.


Liu, Alan

n.d.  Voice of the Shuttle: Gender and Sexuality Studies. Electronic document,, accessed February 23, 2006.



2006  List of Academic Disciplines. Electronic document,, accessed February 23, 2006.

2006  Cultural Anthropology. Electronic document,, accessed February 23, 2006.

2006  Gender Studies. Electronic document,, accessed February 23, 2006.  


Gender Studies and Anthropology since the 1970s



              As stated on the Indiana University Departmental website, “Gender Studies may be best understood as an evolution from the Women’s Studies programs founded in the 1960s and after…. (It) is a distinct field of research working with the tools of many disciplines including the natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and professional fields, with its own scholarly community, theory, and literature, including journals and other standard hallmarks of the academic profession.” Because of the interdisciplinary nature of Women’s/Gender Studies scholarship, it is tightly interwoven with other areas of academic research, and the discipline of Anthropology has had a close relationship with Women’s/Gender Studies since its inception over 40 years ago. Anthropologists have long been interested in gender-related issues, and they have contributed greatly to the literature on cross-cultural gender formations, while second-wave feminists have worked diligently to change androcentric perspectives in academia. The connections between Gender Studies and Anthropology can best be understood in a temporal context, and the following paper will be broken up into two sections: First, a timeline chronicles the events and publications since 1970 that have significantly influenced the two disciplines and their relationships with one another. And secondly, feminist scholarship’s influence on Anthropology textbooks is observed through time by examining gendered terminology in five chronological editions of William Haviland’s Cultural Anthropology from 1978 to 2002.


Chronology (1970-2006)


Below is a chronology tracking the following five themes that are at the intersection of Gender Studies and Anthropology, with an overview of each decade’s contribution:

  • The publication of key books and the individuals who wrote them
  • The establishment of key organizations and the conferences that they sponsor
  • The initial publications of important journals
  • Noteworthy conferences and relevant symposia
  • Significant events in the development of Women’s and Gender Studies Departments and academic programs at 3 universities: Brandeis University, Indiana University, and the University of California at Berkeley


              In the 1970s, Women’s Studies developed as an academic discipline, with the establishment of the National Women’s Studies Association in 1979, and the initial publication of nearly every significant journal in Women’s Studies research. Women’s Studies Departments were sprouting throughout the country, and all 3 of the universities under investigation here had established their own programs by the end of the decade. Certainly, the 1970s were years that called for the revision of androcentric academic research and sexist language, as the second-wave feminist movement gained headway and forced interlocutors to take action, especially as Women’s Studies programs gained prominence in university systems. At the same time, feminist anthropologists such as Sherry Ortner and Louise Lamphere were pioneering the new wave of engendering anthropological theory; this issue was thrust onto the forefront of the field in 1972 at the American Anthropological Association (AAA) meetings in Toronto, where a symposium on Women in Anthropological Theory was held. Thus, many changes in ideas were introduced to the academic community by feminist scholarship of the 1960s and 1970s, and these new ideas laid the groundwork for gender-conscious praxis in Anthropology, as well as the establishment of the new discipline of Women’s Studies.

1972      - AAA Meeting, Toronto: Symposium on Women in Anthropological Theory

              - First publication of Women’s Studies - An Interdisciplinary Journal, Women’s Studies Quarterly, and Feminist Studies


1973      - Founding of Indiana University’s Women’s Studies Department


1974      - Woman, Culture, and Society, MZ Rosaldo and L Lamphere; Is Female to Male as Nature is to Culture, SB Ortner


1975      - Toward an Anthropology of Women, RR Reiter; Language and Woman’s Place, R Lakoff

              - First publication of Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, and Frontiers: A Journal of Women’s Studies

              - Brandeis U. offers its first Women’s Studies course


1976      - Founding of Berkeley’s Women’s Studies Program


1978      - Gender: An Ethnomethodological Approach, SJ Kessler and W McKenna; The Virgin and the State, SB Ortner

-Brandeis U. establishes an undergraduate certificate program in Women’s Studies


1979      - The Myth of Male Superiority, S Parker

- AAA Meeting, Cincinnati: Symposium on Women in Industry: The Search for Cheap Labor

- Founding of the National Women’s Studies Association (with annual conferences)


              The early 1980s were marked by responses to the feminist critiques of the 1960s and 1970s: gender was analyzed from all perspectives, the Nature vs Nurture debate was given the spotlight by the American Studies Association at its annual meeting, and gender was widely distinguished from sex. During the middle of the decade, members of the AAA began to develop an ‘engendered curriculum in Anthropology,’ which culminated in Sandra Morgen’s (1989) edited volume, Gender and Anthropology: Critical Review for Research and Teaching. Also an outgrowth of the AAA, the Association for Feminist Anthropology (AFA) was established in 1988.  During the 1980s, more Women’s Studies publications were added to the constellation of journals that was created in the 1970s, more conferences were held that discussed gender, and more women’s studies organizations were formed, such as the National Council for Research on Women. In the 1980s,  Indiana University established both a PhD minor and an undergraduate minor in Women’s Studies.

1980      - Nature, Culture, and Gender, CP MacCormack and M Strathern

              - PhD Minor in Women’s Studies established at Indiana University


1981      - Female Power and Male Dominance: On the Origins of Sexual Inequality, PR Sanday;     Sexual Meanings: The Cultural Construction of Gender and Sexuality, SB Ortner and H Whitehead; Woman the Gatherer, F Dahlberg

- Founding of the National Council for Research on Women (with annual meetings)


1982      - AAA Meeting, Washington, D.C.: Symposium on Women, Work and Family: Towards a Complex Society; Session: Towards a Politics of Feelings: Gender Bias in Feminist Anthropology


1983      - Woman’s Nature, M Lowe and R Hubbard

- American Studies Association Meeting, Philadelphia: Symposium on Gender: Perspectives on the Nature vs Nurture debate


1985      - AAA Meeting, Washington, D.C.: Symposium on Authority, Status and the Power of Women: The State of the Art (Sponsored by the Committee on the Status of Women in Anthropology/National Women’s Caucus)


1986      - The Science Question in Feminism, S Harding

              - AAA Meeting, Philadelphia: Symposium: Towards an Engendered Curriculum in Anthropology

              - First publication of Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy

              - Undergraduate minor established in Women’s Studies at Indiana University


1987      - AAA Meeting, Chicago: Session on Gender, Cultural Specificity, and                                                  Anthropological Theory


1988      - Establishment of the Association for Feminist Anthropology (AFA), Sylvia Forman initiated the annual Workshops on Teaching about Race and Gender

              - First publication of the National Women’s Studies Association Journal


1989      - Feminism and Anthropology, HL Moore; Gender and Anthropology: Critical                                     Review for Research and Teaching, S Morgen

              - First publication of differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies



              The 1990s brought change to the Women’s Studies Departments of the 1970s and 1980s; during this decade Gender Studies developed, a discipline that would grow to include not only feminist and women’s studies, but also queer studies, femininity and masculinity research, as well as the study of sex and reproduction. Women’s Studies departments, such as the one at Indiana University, began changing their names to Gender Studies, formally indicating that the discipline was expanding to become more inclusive of all gender-related research. Publication of the Journal of Gender Studies began in 1991, and in the same year, Men’s Studies was popularized with the founding of the American Men’s Studies Association. In 1995, the AAA revised its take on women and gender in a session entitled ‘From an Anthropology of Women to the Gendering of Anthropology’; and in 1996, the AFA section began publishing its own journal, Voices. Many new scholars such as Micaela di Leonardo began writing on gender issues in anthropology during the 1990s, and men such as Roger Lancaster began contributing to the field as well.

1990      - Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, J Butler; Beyond the Second      Sex, PR Sanday and RG Goodenough; Engendering Men: The Question of Male        Feminist Criticism, JA Boone and Michael Cadden


1991      - Gender at the Crossroads of Knowledge: Feminist Anthropology in the Postmodern           Era, M di Leonardo; Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature, D       Haraway

              - AAA Meeting, Chicago: Session on Women’s Work Cultures

              - Founding of the American Men’s Studies Association (with annual conferences)

              - First publication of the Journal of Gender Studies

              - Founding of Berkeley’s Women’s Studies Department


1992      - Conference on Feminist Organizations: Harvest of the New Women’s                                                  Movement, Washington, D.C.

              - Founding of Men’s Studies Press

              - An interdisciplinary graduate program in Women’s Studies is established at                                       Brandeis U., along with the establishment of a joint MA degree in Anthropology                                    & Women’s Studies


1993      - Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex”, J Butler; Defining                                Females: The Nature of Women in Society, S Ardener; Gender in Cross-Cultural                                 Perspective, C Brettell and CF Sargent; Culture and Human Sexuality: A Reader,                                  DN Suggs and AW Miracle; Sex Roles and Gender Hierarchies, B Miller


1994      - A Passion for Difference: Essays in Anthropology and Gender, HL Moore; Free                                 Spirits: Feminist Philosophers On Culture, K Mehuron and G Percesepe


1995      - Women Writing Culture, R Behar and D Gordon

              - AAA Meeting, Washington, D.C.: Session: From an Anthropology of Women to                             the Gendering of Anthropology


1996      - Making Gender: The Politics and Erotics of Culture, SB Ortner

              - First publication of Voices by the AFA


1997      - The Gender/Sexuality Reader, R Lancaster and M di Leonardo; Women in                                          Human Evolution, LD Hager; Situated Lives: Gender and Culture in Everyday                                      Life, L Lamphere, H Ragone and P Zavella

              - Indiana University’s Women’s Studies Department is changed to the Gender                                     Studies Department, and an undergraduate major in Women’s Studies is                                                 established


1998      - Women in Culture: A Women’s Studies Anthology, LJ Peach; Ethnographic                                         Feminisms: Essays in Anthropology, S Cole and L Phillips; Is Science                                                 Multicultural? Postcolonialism, Feminism & Epistemologies, S Harding

              - American Sociological Association Meeting, San Francisco: Session on Gender                                  Theory in the Social Sciences


              The 2000s, thus far, have witnessed anthropologists such as Jennifer Robertson and   Serena Nanda delve deeper into Gender Studies issues and their place in Anthropology, with research on ‘same-sex cultures and sexualities’ and ‘cross-cultural gender diversity’. The subfield of the Anthropology of Gender is growing, and this will facilitate a strong relationship with Gender Studies in the future. The Gender Studies field is growing, and becoming more independent in producing doctoral degrees; for instance, the Indiana University Department of Gender Studies will begin offering a PhD in the fall of 2006. Previously, Gender Studies professors often received their degrees from departments of Anthropology, History, or Philosophy because there weren’t many doctoral programs in Women’s Studies, but now there are many more throughout the country, enabling the field to grow from the inside with its own PhD students. 

2000      - Gender and Anthropology, FE Mascia-Lees and NJ Black; Gender Diversity:         Crosscultural Variations, S Nanda; Gender Issues in Ethnography, CAB Warren and JK          Hackney; Feminist Views of the Social Sciences, C Williams


2001      - Women and Men: Cultural Constructs of Gender, 3rd Ed., N Bonvillain; Black Feminist     Anthropology: Theory, Politics, Praxis, and Poetics, I McClaurin


2002      - Out in Theory: The Emergence of Lesbian and Gay Anthropology, E Lewin


2003      - UC Berkeley Gender Consortium Established


2004      - Undoing Gender, J Butler


2005      - Same-Sex Cultures and Sexualities: An Anthropological Reader, J Robertson

              - School of American Research, Santa Fe: Seminar on Gendered Globalization

              - The Women’s Studies Department at Berkeley changes its name to the Department of       Gender and Women’s Studies


2006      - The Language and Sexuality Reader, D Kulick and D Cameron

              - Indiana University establishes a PhD program in Gender Studies


Gendered Terminology in Haviland’s Cultural Anthropology


              There have been many radical advances in feminist scholarship since the first Women’s/Gender Studies programs were born out of second-wave feminism’s critique of academic androcentrism in the 1960s and 1970s. With Anthropology being one of the first disciplines to inform (and be informed by) Women’s/Gender Studies, one would expect anthropological textbooks to reflect these advances somewhat closely.

              A review of five additions of William Haviland’s Cultural Anthropology, published in the years 1978, 1987, 1993,1999, and 2002, provides some insight into anthropological approaches to gender and women’s issues over four decades. One can observe, temporally, the gradual influence of feminist scholarship on anthropology with each new edition of Haviland’s text, as attitudes are shifted and language is refined to become more correct and inclusive of gender’s role in culture.

              However, if anthropological textbooks are to serve as a student’s introduction to current issues and perspectives in anthropology, Haviland’s texts seem to be, at least in the earlier editions, only grudgingly keeping up with the times. For example, the above chronology shows that the 1970’s were characterized by many institutional and theoretical gains on the part of the women’s studies movement, but this is not apparent from Haviland’s 1978 edition of Cultural Anthropology, which concerns itself with the topic of women mostly in reference to marriage, child-rearing, and a sexual prowess which can be disruptive to “harmonious social relationships” and needs to be controlled (Haviland 1978:190). Aside from referring to a “tendency for the human female to be more or less constantly receptive sexually,” which he suggests plays on “the basic primate characteristic of male dominance” and eventually “…introduce[s] a competitive, combative element into hominid groupings”, Haviland also describes “The Empty Nest Syndrome,” in which women don’t know what to do with themselves after their children are grown to the point that, “out of frustration, some women become compulsive drinkers; [and] a few take to sexual promiscuity” (1978:190, 207). Such blatantly sexist ideas are either gradually toned down in subsequent editions or masked under biological explanations with less abrasive terminology. This is likely due in large part to the changing attitudes in scholarly discourse that were set in motion by second-wave feminist critiques of a male-biased academic arena.

              The demands and growing influence of feminist scholarship on Anthropology can also be traced by examining the occurrence of gendered terminology in the index of each edition of the Haviland text. Table 1 shows the occurrence of a sample set of gendered terms indexed in each chronological edition of Haviland’s Cultural Anthropology. One can observe a greater occurrence of variation in gendered terminology with time by observing the increasing frequency of shaded boxes in the later editions of the text. While the earlier editions are more concerned with male universal terminology and differentiation based on sex, later editions offer more coverage of gender related topics and are forced to consider more inclusive terminology, as well as gender as a separate category from sex.


Table 1. Sample Chronology of Indexed Terms Relating to Gender Studies

in Haviland’s Cultural Anthropology*


2nd (1978)

5th (1987)

7th (1993)

9th (1999)

10th (2002)













Feminine Beauty






Female-Headed Families






Female-Headed Households






Female Husbands






Female Initiation Rites






Female Power and Male Dominance (Sanday)






Feminine Identity






Feminine Labor


















Gender Differences






Gender Identification






Gender Identity






Gender Roles






Gender Stratification












Male Dominance






Male Initiation Rites


















Men's Associations












Sex and Labor Patterns






Sex Grouping






Sexism and English Language






Sex Roles






Sex/Role Typing






Sexual Activity






Sexual Attitudes






Sexual Behavior






Sexual Division of Labor






Sexual Differences






Sexual Identity












Sexual Relations






Sexual Segregation






Sexual Mores












Women's Associations






              *Shaded boxes indicate the presence of an indexed term.


              The force of feminist scholarship can be recognized over time in the bibliography of the Haviland text. In the 1978 edition for instance, the bibliography contains over 25 titles containing the word man and only two containing the word woman. With each subsequent edition, the occurrence of titles containing masculine pronouns decreases as the occurrence of titles containing feminine pronouns increases. In the 1999 edition, the two are nearly equal; and in the 2002 edition, the occurrence of feminine gendered titles finally surpasses that of masculine gendered titles



              In summary, the relationship between Gender Studies and Anthropology is one that has grown steadily with the development of the Women’s/Gender Studies discipline in the academic arena. The anthropological community embraced the feminist theories of the 1970s, and they helped revise the state of women (and gender) in academic discourse. Since then, the field has grown rapidly, and one can only expect that, with the continued expansion of the Gender Studies discipline, more organizations will be established that are devoted to understanding gender and anthropology, bringing the two disciplines closer than they are today.  



Haviland, William A.

  • Cultural Anthropology, 2nd Ed. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

1987  Cultural Anthropology, 5th Ed. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

  • Cultural Anthropology, 7th Ed. New York: Harcourt Brace College Publishers.

1999  Cultural Anthropology, 9th Ed. New York: Harcourt Brace College Publishers.

  • Cultural Anthropology, 10th Ed. U.S.: Thomson Learning, Inc.


Morgen, Sandra (ed.)

  1989  Gender and Anthropology: Critical Reviews for Research and Teaching. Washington, D.C.: American Anthropological Association.





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