Universiteit Leiden

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The F-word: feminist archaeologies for the twenty-first century

  • Catherine Frieman (Australian National University)
Tuesday 14 May 2024
Van Steenis
Einsteinweg 2
2333 CC Leiden
Reuvens Hall (main hall Van Steenis)


Contemporary archaeologists are working in a moment of big data and burgeoning scientific discovery. In conjunction with more precise absolute dating, biomolecular data, particularly aDNA, have fundamentally changed the practice of archaeology, the questions archaeologists ask, and the possibilities for interpretation on the scale of an individual’s lifetime. Some empirical scholars believe this so-called ‘third science revolution’ is pushing archaeologists past the realm of speculative inference towards deductive methods for finding truth-with-a-capital-T. Others just want more data to narrow down the possibilities we navigate in studying the past. Nevertheless, new grand narratives of the past seem to swell around us and sometimes swamp smaller stories of specific sites, persons or things. The general and the normative dominate, further marginalising the outlier and the exception. Here, I stake out a feminist standpoint within this methodological and interpretative wave. I argue that ambiguity, uncertainty and an attentiveness to the marginal are core to building robust narratives from ancient data, and that a past investigated in this way opens up radical alternatives for the future.

The lecture will be followed by Faculty Drinks.

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