Session: #131

Theme & Session Format

6. Material culture studies and societies
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

The Place of Queer Theory in Current Archaeological Debates: All T, No Shade? [AGE]
Some 25 years ago, queer theory emerged as a field of critical theory. Building upon feminist and gay/lesbian deconstructions of essentialist understandings of gender and sexual identity and their consequences, it found its way into archaeological debates in the 1990s and early 2000s. Most of the pioneering work done under the umbrella term "queer archaeology" focused on deconstructing heteronormative assumptions about the past, or on investigating past understandings of sex and gender which may have differed from modern heteronormative sex/gender bind. Few other topics were extensively debated, leading some critics to dismiss "queer archaeology" as being limited to the search for same-sex practitioners in the past. Three decades later, archaeological debates are more or less dominated by postcolonial approaches (subalterns; creole; hybridity; mimicry; third space), by the so called "third science revolution" (aDNA; stable isotopes; big data; large funding) and by the ontological turn (non-human agency; entanglement; cosmological perspectivism). Outside of academia we are witnessing rises in nationalism, racism, and homophobia. Gender studies are under attack for being ideological, and relevant academic programmes are being shut down. Scientific racism plays a role in these developments. If the crucial characteristic of queer theory is its instability and its potential to constantly re-invent itself in response to changing definitions of normativity, then its use for archaeology should be equally re-invented. The aim of this AGE (Archaeology and Gender in Europe) session is to reflect on how queer theory in archaeology can contribute to other questions than those related to LGBT and situate the role of queer theory in current archaeological debates, to ask what is normal in these debates, how this norm came to exist and who is excluded or oppressed by this normality. We invite all contributions which investigate normal and abnormal archaeologies and pasts in the vast network of modern states, capitalism, neo-colonialism, heteronormativity and homonationalism.
Queer theory, Postcolonialism, Third Science Revolution, Reflexivity
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Main organiser:
Bo Jensen (Denmark) 1
Uroš Matić (Austria) 2
1. Kroppedal Museum
2. Austrian Archaeological Institute