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Erlebnisbericht „Gender Transformations in Prehistoric and Archaic Societies“

Helena Wehren, Myriam Camenzind und Katharina Schiltknech (Student*innen der Universität Bern, Institut für Archäologische Wissenschaften) halten in ihrem Beitrag ihre Eindrücke und Erlebnisse des International Workshop „Gender Transformations in Prehistoric and Archaic Societies“, 8.-10. März 2018 in Kiel, fest.

Der vorliegende Gastbeitrag erschien bereits im letzten Rundbrief des FemArc– Netzwerkes.


Gender transformations 2018

In our institute at the university of Bern some members are working on creating some understanding and awareness of gender issues in archaeology. Therefore, the announcement of the conference “gender transformations in prehistoric and archaic societies” gave us a wonderful opportunity to deepen and enlarge our knowledge on the matter and to additionally visit Kiel. Already existing connections from the University of Bern to the University of Kiel helped to get a group of nine students together.

As we were the largest only auditor group, we were asked to write a short conference report.

It was really inspiring to listen to the talks on disputed subjects, like gender assignments of skeletons and graves which, even today, are often discussed in too rigid frames. The international accents and the unfamiliar vocabulary made it sometimes challenging to follow. However, the diverse geographical and cultural background of the participants was astonishing and gave us a picture of the position of not only the gender issue in archaeology but also archaeology as a profession and subject all over Europe. The full conference program with the speakers name, origin and the respective talk titles can be found under: http://www.sfb1266.uni-kiel.de/de/chancengleichheit/international-workshop.


In the first session, gendering fieldwork, it was interesting to hear about the evolution of gender roles in archaeological fieldwork, and for once not only about the dusty mighty men, which are normally cited. We heard about female leaders of successful excavation campaigns, about difficulties, inequalities and changes in gender views in the past and in the present. It was shocking and amusing at the same time to hear about stereotypes in representations of our actual European working field.

The next session on tracing gender transformations gave some insights of changing gender ideas in archaeology and the differences about sex and gender. In this session, many graves, graveyards, findings as well as methods of assigning sex threw skeletons or fingerprints were presented. The thought of how contemporary societies would be reconstructed if our graveyards were looked at is quite funny. One of the highlights for us was the presentation about motherhood. The paper presented insight into research possibilities which we did not think possible (or did not think about) but give important clues on the everyday life in past societies.

The third session about gendering and shaping environment was a first attempt to make a connection between gender and its possible effects on the environment as well as if gender can be recognized in the environment. It seems to be a difficult approach to tackle.

The conference was a fantastic opportunity to bring new ideas and methods in our study focus. Ideas which are not too prominent at our own institute. We had a wonderful time at the conference, learned a lot, saw and heard important minds of gender archaeology and were able to explore Kiel with local students. Thanks to all who made this very special und new experience happen.



Helena Wehren, wehren@gmx.ch

Myriam Camenzind, myriam.camenzind@students.unibe.ch

Katharina Schiltknecht, katharina.schiltknecht@students.unibe.ch

Institut für Archäologische Wissenschaften (IAW)

Mittelstrasse 43

3012 Bern

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