Professor Lauren Leve
Office: PNE 346
Office hours: Monday 4:15-5:; Wed. 2:30-4 or by appointment
The Anthropology Of Gender, Marriage, And The Family
This course offers a comparative examination of the forces organizing women's lives and the symbols, discourses and practices through which womanhood becomes meaningful in a variety of cultural contexts. Case studies from Africa, Europe, Latin America, North America, South Asia, and the Middle East focus on the ways kinship, religion, political, and economic conditions combine to constitute gender, and the ways in which gender is constructed and articulated in relation to other identities such as race, class, sexuality and nationalism. Grounded in dialogue with feminist scholarship, the course struggles with the problems of defining a trans-cultural category of "woman," and the tensions between feminist politics and anthropological appreciations of cultural relativism. In the same vein, we will consider debates over, and models of, politically-engaged feminist scholarship. Students are encouraged to consider the following questions throughout the semester:
--Given that cultures are not static entities but dynamic constructions rooted in historical processes, how do social divisions such as class and race, and ideological distinctions such as religion and nationalism, shape women's lives and identities in different ways?
--How do political and economic processes affect women’s identities, resources and possibilities under changing historical circumstances?
--What do the debates surrounding the organization of gender in a given society reveal about larger processes of knowledge and power in a global context?
--(How) can a feminist commitment to improving women's lives be integrated into a) international development; b) our own processes of representation?
-- How do the questions we ask, and the unconscious assumptions we bring to thinking about sex, gender, cultures, and identities condition the types of knowledge we produce?
20% Class Participation
50% Two short "thought essays" (4-6 pp. each) that present your reflections and responses to the readings of a given topic (identifiable by the headings in bold). The essays should identify and explain one or more issues analyzed in the readings, and present a critical response.
30% Final exam, take-home, open book
Essays are due by 4:00pm on the day assigned, in the class mailbox. Otherwise, I will deduct a third of a grade for each day the paper is late. Extensions requested on the day the paper is due will not be granted.
All readings must be completed by the date listed on the syllabus, and students should come to class prepared for discussion. You are strongly encouraged to look one or two classes ahead on the syllabus throughout the semester. Classes for which fewer pages of reading have been assigned are often followed by heavier reading loads, and it is recommended that students begin these readings early.
Students with disabilities who will be taking this course and who need disability-related classroom or testing accommodations are encouraged to see me as soon as possible. Barbara Boger, the Director of Programs of the Learning and Teaching Center (ext. x2092) is available in the Learning and Teaching Center in Clapp Library to assist students in arranging these accommodations.
Books Available at the Bookstore:
Lamphere, Ragone and Zavella, eds. Situated Lives: Gender and Culture in Everyday Life (rec.)
Rosaldo, MZ and Lamphere, eds. 1974. Women Culture And Society (recommended)
Aretxaga, Begona. 1997. Shattering Silence. (req.)
Lancaster and di Leonardo, eds. 1997. The Gender/Sexuality Reader. (recommended.)
Scheper-Hughes, Nancy. 1992. Death Without Weeping. (req.)
El-Or, Tamar. 1994. Educated and Ignorant. (req.)
Weston, Kath. 1991. Families We Choose: Lesbians, Gays, Kinship. (req.)
All other readings are available on reserve at Clapp Library.
CLASS AND ASSIGNMENT SCHEDULE:
What is Sex? Gender?
1/31 Cultural Constructions of "Female" and "Male"
Kessler, S. 1990. "The Medical Construction of Gender: Case Management of Intersexed Infants," Signs 16 (1):3-26.
Martin, Emily. 1997. "The Egg and the Sperm" in Louise Lamphere, Helena Ragone and Patricia Zavella eds. Situated Lives: Gender and Culture in Everyday Life, pp.85-98.
2/4 Cultural Constructions of "Women" and "Men"
Bordo, Susan. "The Body and the Reproduction of Femininity" in Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body. pp. 165-84.
Ginsburg, Faye. "The Disembodiment of Gender in the Abortion Debate" in Situated Lives, pp. 142-56.
Lakoff, Robin,.1973. "Talking Like a Lady" Language and Society pp. 251-254.
Framing the Questions: The Roots of Gender Subordination
Ortner, Sherry. 1974. "Is Female to Male As Nature Is to Culture?" in Women, Culture, and Society, eds. M. Rosaldo and L. Lamphere. pp.67-88.
Sachs, Karen. 1974. "Engles Revisited: Women, the Organization of Production, and Private Property" in Women, Culture, and Society, eds. M. Rosaldo and L. Lamphere. pp.207-222.
Rosaldo, Michelle. 1974. "Women, Culture and Society: A Theoretical Overview" in Women, Culture, and Society, eds. M. Rosaldo and L. Lamphere. pp.17-42.
The Case of Motherhood
2/11 The Significance of Women’s Mothering for Gender Personality and Gender
Chodorow, Nancy. 1989. Feminism and Psychoanalytic Theory, pp. 23-66
2/14 Political-Economy and the Possibilities of Mothering (in Northeastern
Scheper-Hughes, Nancy. 1992. Death without Weeping: The Violence of Everyday Life in Brazil chapter 4 (pp.128-166) and chapter 8 (pp.340-400).
The Cultural Construction Of Families and Women's Power: Case Study from Nepal and North India
Bennett, Lynne. 1983. Dangerous Wives and Sacred Sisters: Social and Symbolic Roles of High Caste Women in Nepal chapters 1 and 2: pp.1-51.
In class, watch film, Dadi and Her Family
Bennett, Lynne. 1983. Dangerous Wives and Sacred Sisters: Social and Symbolic Roles of High Caste Women in Nepal chapters 5 and 6: pp. 124-260.
**Class Visit by Sarah Lamb**
Lamb, Sarah. White Saris, Sweet Mangos: Aging, Gender and Body in North India, excerpt TBA.
2/28 "Death-by-Culture"? Confronting Dowry Murder
Bordewich, Fergus. 1986. "Dowry Murders" In Atlantic 258 (1):21-27
Stone, Linda and Caroline James. 1995 (March). "Dowry, Bride-Burning, and Female Power in India." Women’s Studies International Forum 18(2): 125-43.
Narayan, Uma. 1997. "Cross-Cultural Connections, Border-Crossings and "Death-by-Culture" in Dislocating Cultures, pp. 83-117.
The Cultural Construction Of Families and Women's Power: Case Studies from Lesbian/Gay Communities in America
Weston, Kath. 1991. Families We Choose Lesbians, Gays, Kinship chapter 2 (pp.21-42), chapter 3 (pp.43-76) and chapter 5 (103-136).
Religious Resources and the Gendered Organization of Knowledge and Power (Case Studies from Orthodox Judaism, Bedouin, and Islam)
El-Or, Tamar. 1994. Educated and Ignorant: Ultraorthodox Jewish Women and Their World chapters 1-3 (pp.11-133)
In class, watch film: Women of the Wall
ESSAY #1 DUE IN CLASS: CHOOSE TO RESPOND TO ANY SET OF READINGS PRIOR TO 3/4
Abu-Lughod, Lila. 1990. "The Romance of Resistance: Tracing Transformations of Power Through Bedouin Women." American Ethnologist 17 (1):41-55.
Faust, Kimberly, et al., 1992. "Young Women Members of the Islamic Revival Movement in Egypt" Muslim World 82:55-64.
Gender in Moments of Social Upheaval (Case Study from Russia and Hungary)
Gal, Susan and Gail Kligman. 2000. "Introduction" in Reproducing Gender: Politics, Publics, and Everyday Life After Socialism, pp. 3-6
Marody and Giza-Poleszczuk. 2000. "Changing Images of Identity in Poland: From the Self-Sacrificing to the Self-Investing Woman?" in Reproducing Gender, pp. 151-175.
Gal, Susan. 1997. "Gender in the Post-Socialist Transition: The Abortion Debate in Hungary" in Lancaster and di Leonardo, eds. The Gender/Sexuality Reader. pp. 122-33.
Before class, watch film: "Sweet Emma, Dear Bobe" (screening to be arranged)
In class: Discussion
Sex, Gender and the Nation-State
Heng, Geraldine and Janadus Devan. 1995. "State Fatherhood: The Politics of Nationalism, Sexuality and Race in Singapore" in Aiwa Ong and Michael G. Peletz, eds. Bewitching Women, Pious Men: Gender and Body Politics in Southeast Asia, pp.195-215.
Das, Veena. 1995. "National Honor and Practical Kinship: Of Unwanted Women and Children" in Critical Events: An Anthropological Perspective on Contemporary India. pp. 55-83.
Gender at the Intersection of the Colonial and Post-Colonial Worlds
Stoler, Ann. 1997. "Making Empire Respectable: The Politics of Race and Sexual Morality in Twentieth-Century Colonial Cultures" in Situated Lives, p. 373-399.
Harrison, Faye. 1997. "The Gendered Politics and Violence of Structural Adjustment: A View from Jamaica" in Situated Lives, pp.451-68
Gender, Race and Globalization
Colen, Shellee. 1995. "'Like a Mother to Them': Stratified Reproduction and West Indian Childcare Workers and Employers in New York" in Ginsburg and Rapp, eds. Conceiving the New World Order, pp.78-102.
Salzinger, Leslie. "A Maid by Any Other Name: The Transformation of ‘Dirty Work’ by Central American Immigrants" in Situated Lives, pp.271-91
Gendered Subjectivities, Political Agency and Political Violence
Aretxaga, Begona. 1997. Shattering Silence.
4/15 No class, Patriots Day
Das, Veena. 1990. "Our Work to Cry, Your Work to Listen" in Mirrors of Violence: Communities, Riots and Survivors in South Asia. pp. 345-98.
Considering the Possibilities of Feminist Practice
4/22 Dilemmas of Feminist Commitment and Critique
Gordon, D. 1991. "Female Circumcision and Genital Operations in Egypt and the Sudan: a Dilemma for Medical Anthropology [and commentaries by Ginsburg, Morsy, Sheper-Hughes]," Medical Anthropology Quarterly 5(1):3-28.
Boddy, Janice. 1997. "Womb as Oasis: The Symbolic Context of Pharaonic Circumcision in Rural Northern Sudan" in Lancaster and di Leonardo, eds. The Gender/Sexuality Reader. pp.309-24.
ESSAY #2 DUE : CHOOSE TO RESPOND TO ANY SET OF READINGS BETWEEN 3/4 AND 4/18
4/25 Third World Women and the Politics of Representation
Mohanty, Chandra Talpade. 1991."Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses" in Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Ann Russo and Lourdes Torres, eds., Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism, pp.51-81.
4/29 Women and Development
"Different Roads to Development." The Economist (Aug. 19, 1995):35-36.
Enslin, Elizabeth. "Imagined Sisters: The Ambiguities of Women’s Poetics and Collective Actions" in Selves in Time and Place. Debra Skinner, Alfred Pach III and Dorothy Holland, eds. Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers. pp. 269-300.
Unnithan, Maya and Kavita Srivastava. "Gender Politics, Development, and Women’s Agency in Rajastan." In Discourses of Development: Anthropological Perspectives. R.D. Grillo and R.L. Stirrat, eds. Oxford: Berg. 1997. pp. 157-82.
Rahman, Aminur. "Microcredit Initiatives for Equitable and Sustainable Development: Who Pays?" World Development, Vol. 27, No.1. (1999).
Handouts: UN, USAID, and World Bank documents on women in development, literacy, and empowerment.
Reconsidering Feminist Practice in the Study of Women and Culture: Can There Be a Feminist Ethnography?
Stacey, Judith. 1988. "Can There Be a Feminist Ethnography?" in Women’s Studies International Forum 11 (1):21-27
Bell, Diane. 1993. "Yes, Virginia, There Is a Feminist Ethnography: Reflections from Three Australian Fields" in Gendered Fields: Women, Men and Ethnography pp.28-43.
Ong. "Women Out of China: Traveling Tales and Travelling Theories in Postcolonial Feminism" in Women Writing Culture, pp. 350-72.
Elizabeth Enslin. "Beyond Writing. Feminist Practice and the Limitations of Ethnography" Cultural Anthropology v. 9 (Nov. 1994). pp. 537-68.