Dr. Meg Conkey
April 2, 2010
Ernie Pyle Auditorium
Reception to Follow
Marginal Practices: A Feminist Voice From Outside of the Cave
Like most disciplines, archaeology has its core subjects, preferred field locations and privileged practitioners. Thus, there are marginal topics, marginal culture areas, and marginalized practitioners and approaches. This talk attempts to probe "the marginal" and will use, in part, my own experiences in the feminist practice of archaeology as carried out "between the caves" in the caveman archaeology of Ice Age Europe. How do topics and locations become only "marginal" to the grand events and key sites? Why are some methods preferred and why does excavation continue to be the defining practice of archaeology despite sociopolitical and conservationist trends? What does a feminist practice of archaeology actually mean, since it's not just about "finding women" in the past? And why, say many of my colleagues, would anyone want to tramp around the open fields of the Midi-Pyrénées region of southern France to see if there are any traces of Paleolithic peoples when the preservation in caves is so much better and there is not likely to be much out there, especially not in intact open air settings like those of the Paris Basin that have been so heralded.
Margaret Conkey is currently the Interim Chair of and the Class of 1960 (endowed) Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, where she has taught for 23 years. She has served as the Director of the campus-wide Archaeological Research Facility ( 1994-2007), and is currently the President of the 7500 member Society for American Archaeology. She is a past President of the Archaeology Division of the American Anthropological Association, and of the AAA's Association for Feminist Anthropology. She currently serves on the Board of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in Stanford, CA. She received her BA from Mt Holyoke College, and her MA and PhD from the University of Chicago. She previously taught at San Jose State University and at the Binghamton University of the State University of New York. She has carried out research in the caves, rock shelters and open-air archaeology of the Ice Age in southwestern Europe for many years, and she currently directs a landscape archaeology and survey project in the French Midi-Pyrénées, where her team has been recovering extensive traces of Paleolithic activities in the open air "between the caves". Additionally, she has been centrally involved in bringing a more balanced view to the study and understanding of gender in archaeology and in past human societies, helping to develop an explicitly feminist archaeology. Most recently (2007) she co-edited a special issue of the Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory with Alison Wylie on Doing Archaeology as a Feminist. Among her awards are numerous research grants from the National Science Foundation, several Distinguished Teaching Awards, a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Berkeley Academic Senate Faculty Service Award, the Berkeley Chancellor's Award for Advancing Institutional Excellence, and an honorary doctorate degree from Mt. Holyoke College.