Ant 295-02

Anthropological Perspectives on Gender


Professor:  Maria Tapias (                           MW  2:30-4:05

           Goodnow Hall 203                                                     Fine Arts 242

           Phone:  269-3137


Office Hours:  MW 4:15-5:00 and Tues. 11-1.  During office hours, please feel free to stop by without an appointment.  If you don’t want to have to wait during office hours please email me and we’ll set up a definite time.  Of course, if you have a conflict with the office hours please email me and we’ll find a suitable time to meet!


Course Description:  This class will examine the cultural constructions of femininities and masculinities from a cross-cultural perspective.  Our discussions will examine how individuals and societies imagine, negotiate, perform and contest dominant gender ideologies, roles, relations and identities. 


Required Readings:

Res:  Readings marked Res are on reserve in the library.  Books may be borrowed for two hours at a time and photocopying machines are available in the library.

OLRes:  On line reserve readings can be down loaded directly from the library’s home page.


Books (available at the bookstore):

Abu-Lughod, Lila:  Writing Women’s Worlds                  (WWW)

Ginsburg,  Faye:  Contested Lives                                   (CL)

Gutmann, Matthew:  The Meanings of Macho                 (MM)

Lamphere, Louise et al. :   Situated Lives                        (SL)

Lamb, Sarah:    White Saris and Sweet Mangoes             (WSSM)



Course Organization and Requirements:


The class will be structured as a seminar.  I will occasionally lecture or lead a group activity but for the most part the class will rely heavily on active discussion of the articles, themes and books that we cover.  I have very high expectations of your performance and active participation in class.  The reading load is heavy so please make every effort to keep up with the readings and come willing to participate and engage with the issues!!


A note on discussions:  Discussions provide a forum for a collective reflection of the texts.  As we read the texts we will often engage with them and interpret them along our own experiences and personal backgrounds.  The reading one makes of a text will naturally vary across the class and that is what makes a discussion exciting!  Please come prepared to share your experiences and respect the experiences and readings of others.  You are here not only to learn from the professor and the readings but also from each other.  Your failure to participate is a loss to all of us!


I would like to encourage students with documented disabilities, including non-visible disabilities such as chronic diseases, learning disabilities, head injury, attention deficit/hyperactive disorder, psychiatric disabilities, to discuss with me, after class or during my office hours, appropriate accommodations.  You will need to provide documentation of your disability to the Associate Dean and Director of Academic Advising, Joyce Stern, located in the lower level of the Forum (x3702)



1. Class attendance (10%) and participation.  (10%)  You are expected to attend all classes and regularly participate in class.  Active participation means keeping up to date on the readings, participating in discussions or debates, as well as contributing to group work.  I will often ask for volunteers to do web searches, bring in examples that reflect the issues raised in the readings.  In addition, 2-3 students will meet in advance of class to discuss the assigned texts and will be responsible for posing questions to the class to foster discussion.  I will take attendance at every class.  Each student is allowed 2 absences without suffering penalty.  Missing more than 2 classes will result in a significant decrease in the attendance and participation grade.  Any assignment that is missed because of an UNEXCUSED absence will receive a zero.  Excused absences will still count towards your two, but you will be allowed to make up the assignments.  An excused absence is given only in the case of medical emergencies or a death in the family.  Notice must be provided through academic affairs.  You are responsible for viewing missed films and/or obtaining missed notes from one of your peers. 


2. Short reaction papers. (40%)  You will write four reaction papers during the semester.  These short papers are an opportunity for you to critically engage with readings that particularly excite you or make you think of something in a new way.  The paper may be written in standard format or if you wish you can write the paper in the form of a letter to the author or to someone else.  These short 3-4 page papers will give you an opportunity to informally reflect upon some of the themes of the course.  Please note that a reaction paper is NOT a summary of the author’s argument.  Rather it is a response to the ideas he/she poses in the paper. 


3.  Final proposal and project (10% and 30% respectively).  You will write one final research paper for this class.  A brief 2-3 page proposal with an annotated bibliography of the books or articles you intend to utilize is due on Nov 4th.  You should plan to meet with me individually during the weeks of October 23rd and October 30th.  The final paper will be due on Dec.  11th .    






1.      Introductions


Mon, Sept. 2, 2002

“My Life in Pink”


Wed.  Sept 4, 2002

Res:  Ruth Hubbard  “Gender and Genitals: Constructs of Sex and Gender” in Social Text 46/47  Vol. 14 No. 1 and 2 Spring/Summer 1996  pp.157-165

SL:  Emily Martin,  “The Egg and the Sperm:  How Science has Constructed a Romance based on Stereotypical Male-Female Roles”  pp. 85-98


2.  In Search of Universals


Mon,  Sept  9

Res:    *Michelle Rosaldo  “Woman, Culture and Society:  A Theoretical Overview”  in Woman, culture, and society. Edited by Michelle Zimbalist Rosaldo and Louise Lamphere.

*Sherry Ortner  “Is Female to Male as Nature is to Culture?”  in Woman, culture, and society. Edited by Michelle Zimbalist Rosaldo and Louise Lamphere.


3.      Fragmenting “woman” to “women”


Wed.  Sept 11

OLRes  Chandre Mohanty  “Under Western Eyes:  Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses”

Res.     *Aihwa Ong  “Colonialism and Modernity:  Feminist Representations of Women in Non-Western Societies” in Feminism and 'race' / edited by Kum-Kum Bhavnani

            *Audre Lourde  “The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House” in Feminism and 'race' / edited by Kum-Kum Bhavnani  OR  in This bridge called my back : writings by radical women of color  editors, Cherrie Moraga, Gloria Anzaldua ; foreword, Toni Cade Bambara


4.      Feminist Anthropology, Post-modernism and Reflexivity


Mon.  Sept 16

OLRes  *James Clifford  “Introduction:  Partial Truths” in James Clifford and George Marcus ed.  Writing Culture:  The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography

Res      * Frances Mascia Lees, Patricia Sharpe and Colleen Cohen  “The Postmodernist Turn in Anthropology:  Cautions from a Feminist Perspective”  in Signs Vol 14. no. 1  pp. 7-33

SL:  Kirin Narayan  “How Native is a “Native” Anthropologist?”


Wed.  Sept 18

WWW  Preface, Introduction and Chapter 1


5.  Honor and Shame


Mon.  Sept 23

WWW  Chapter 3 and 5

Res      *Nancy Lindisfarne  “Variant Masculinities, variant Virginities:  Rethinking ‘Honor and Shame’”  in Dislocating Masculinities



6.      Gender and Sexuality


Wed.  Sept 25

OLRes   *Wyatt MacGaffey,  “Husbands and Wives” in Transition #71

Res      *  Gill Shepherd “Rank, Gender and Homosexuality:  Mombasa as a key to Understanding Sexual Options”  in The Cultural Construction of Sexuality  Ed. Pat Caplan


Mon. Sept 30

Res      *Gilbert Herdt “Rituals of Manhood:  Male Initiation in Papua New Guinea” in

Gender in Cross Cultural Perspective ed.  Caroline Brettell and Carolyn Sargent

OLRes *Richard Parker  “Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome in Urban Brazil”


7.      Denaturalizing Gender Categories


Wed.  Oct. 2

Res      *Collier, Rosaldo and Yanagisako  “Is There a Family?” in Rethinking the family: Some Feminist Questions / edited by Barrie Thorne with Marilyn Yalom

SL        *Ellen Lewin  “This Permanent Roommate”

            *Beatriz Pesquera  “In the Beginning He Wouldn’t Lift Even a Spoon”


8.  Reproducing the Body


Mon.  Oct. 7

SL        *Sarah Franklin  “Making Sense of Missed Conceptions”

            *Helena Ragone  “Chasing the Blood Tie”

            *Rayna Rapp “Constructing Amniocentesis”





9.      Naturalizing Nurturance and the Construction of the “Anti-Mother”


Wed.  Oct 9

CL       *Chapter 1, 4,

Res      *Tsing  “Monster Stories” in Uncertain terms : negotiating gender in American culture ed. Faye Ginsburg & Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing


Mon. Oct 14

CL       * Chapters 5-10


Wed.  Oct 16

CL       *Chapters 11, 12, and Introduction to Updated Edition (pp ix-xxix)




Mon.  Oct 28-30

Class cancelled. 

During this week you should begin your research for your final paper and write a proposal to submit to me on Monday Nov. 4th.  You should have a well developed research question and also submit a tentative annotated  bibliography of at least 15 sources.    The citation style should be that followed by the journal American Ethnologist. 


10.  Masculinities


Mon.  Nov 4  Paper Proposal due.

MM:    * Introduction and Chapters 1-4


Wed.  Nov 6

MM:   * Chapters 5-6


Mon.  Nov 11

MM:  *Chapters 7-10


11.  Performing Gender


Wed.  Nov 13

SL:      * Mary Moran “ Warriors or Soldiers?  Masculinity and Ritual Transvestism in the Liberian Civil War”

Res:    *Andrea Cornwall  “Gendered Identities and Gender Ambiguity Among Travestis in Salvador, Brazil”


12.  Resistance and Gender


Mon.  Nov 18

Res.     *Lila Abu-Lughod  “The Romance of Resistance:  Tracing Transformations of Power Through Bedouin Women” in Beyond the Second Sex: new directions in the anthropology of gender   ed. Peggy Reeves Sanday and Ruth Gallagher Goodenough

SL        *Iris Lopez  “Agency and Constraint:  Sterilization and Reproductive Freedom Among Puerto Rican Women in New York City”

            *Aihwa Ong  “Spirits of Resistance”


Wed.  Nov 20

SL:      *Leslie Salzinger  “A Maid by Any Other Name”

            *Denise Segura “Chicanas in White-Collar Jobs:  ‘You Have to Prove Yourself More’”


13.  Aging, Gender and the Body


Mon.  Nov 25

WSSM  *Introduction, Chapter 1-2


Wed.  Nov 27

WSSM  Chapters 3-5


Mon.  Dec 2

WSSM  Chapters 6-7


Wed.  Dec 4

General Wrap up


Mon.  Dec 9

Individual Presentations of projects.  Each person will have 10 minutes to present their papers to the rest of the class.


Wed.  Dec 11

Individual Presentations continued.