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Conference examines links between human gender, landscape


Published April 11, 2013

An important development in social theory is the recognition that all human life is embodied. That is to say, human life gives concrete form to abstract concepts, born in the mind, of all kinds.

“Part-and-parcel to this embodiment,” says archaeologist William Meyer, “is an inescapable sensual connection between the human body and the non-human things of the world with which we constantly interact. The stage upon which such interactions occur is the landscape.”

Meyer, a postdoctoral scholar and UB research assistant professor of anthropology, is the organizer of “Landscaping Gender and Engendering Landscape,” the sixth annual Visiting Scholar Conference of the UB Institute for European and Mediterranean Archaeology (IEMA), which will take place April 13-14.

The conference will be held on the ground level of Greiner Hall, North Campus, and will feature presentations by scholars from the U.S. and Europe whose work is focused on the relationship between gender and landscape.

The conference program, registration, visitor information and a complete list of conference speakers and their topics can be found on the IEMA website.

Meyer says researchers have found that how we act—and interact—on the landscape stage is influenced by the different categories of identity to which we belong, including sex, gender, age, class, faction and ethnicity.

“At this conference,” he says, “archaeologists and art, architectural and classical historians will draw on case studies from the Paleolithic to the Modern periods to examine how people of different genders experienced the landscapes of the past and how specific places or elements within those landscapes became gendered,” he says.

 “Just as societies endow different kinds of bodies with specific expectations, rights and limitations, the speakers will discuss how places on the landscape might be gendered in similar ways,” he says.

Meyer explains that such intersections of landscape and gender have been explored in archaeology’s sister disciplines but remain relatively unexplored within archaeology itself.

“Where these intersections have been studied, however, points of overlap have provided a much richer sense of life in the past and have revealed complex heterogeneities in the landscapes and societies that we study,” he says.

Additional funding for the conference was provided by the UB departments of Geography, English and Transnational Studies and the UB Gender Institute, which sponsored the travel of speaker Silvia Tomášková, who will present a talk for the institute on April 15 titled “Science as Community Organizing: The Importance of Mentors.”

Another participating scholar, Sandra Montón-Subías of Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona, will give a talk on April 16 for the Department of Anthropology titled “Modern Colonialism and the First Globalization through Archaeology: A Spanish Perspective.”
Both talks are free and open to the public.