Diversity, identity, and oppression in the production of archaeological knowledge
Heath-Stout, Laura Ellen
MetadataShow full item record
This dissertation investigates diversity in archaeology using quantitative and qualitative methods drawn from sociology and building on previous studies of gender equity issues in the discipline. I address two major research questions: (1) Who (with regard to race, gender, and sexual orientation) produces archaeological knowledge? (2) How do the identities and experiences of archaeologists affect the knowledge they produce? I addressed the first through a quantitative study of journal authorship patterns, expanding a long tradition of feminist publication equity studies. My study is the first to look intersectionally at the demographics of publication. I surveyed 5645 scholars who had published in major archaeology journals over a ten-year period. Results show that although archaeology is approaching gender parity, the field remains overwhelmingly white and straight. Straight white male domination is pervasive in almost all subfields and methods, despite the common perception that some subfields are feminine. The second part of the study was qualitative and based on in-depth interviews with a diverse sample of 72 archaeologists. My interviews showed that the primary methods of recruitment of archaeologists are directed at (or most accessible to) people with race and class privilege. Archaeologists from marginalized groups face pervasive oppression, ranging from microaggressions to abuse from mentors and colleagues. These hurdles lead some to abandon archaeology, while others must face setbacks to find safety. The knowledge archaeologists create is shaped by their personal interests and political commitments; their experiences and standpoint in society; and the ways their mentors, funding agencies, and the job market encourage or discourage particular paths. All of these forces are, in turn, structured by interlocking social systems of gender, race, and sexuality. The two studies work together to elucidate the race, gender, and sexuality problems in archaeology. The quantitative study provides a broad overview of the demographics of the discipline, contextualizing the more specific interview study. The interviews provide detail concerning the trends shown in the journal study. By understanding the demographics of archaeology and how they affect knowledge production, we can diversify our discipline and build a more complete and nuanced understanding of the human past.