Gender and Anthropology:  by Frances E. Mascia-Lees, Nancy Johnson Black
136 pages, $23.95 list
eBook availability
Gender and Anthropology
Second Edition
Mascia-Lees and Black continue to expertly trace how anthropologists use different theoretical orientations to examine the nature and determinants of gender roles and gender inequality.

From the nineteenth century on, anthropologists have used different theoretical orientations to understand the emotionally charged topic of gender. With an insightful look at evolutionary, materialist, psychological, structuralist, poststructural, sociolinguistic, and self-reflexive approaches, this distinctive module also examines how these approaches best explain gender and sexual oppression in a global world. The authors pack great amounts of valuable information into such a slim volume yet leave readers with digestible material that does more than cover the surface of anthropological perspectives on gender roles and stratification. Readers gain insights and tools to develop their own critical analyses of gender.
“This is a strong text at an attractive price. It has a sort of handbook quality to it. I like how the authors provide an overview of a lot of theories—a good primer. That means I can use ethnographies to round out the course.” — Jason E. Miller, Washburn University

“Well organized, informative, and engaging.” — Uzi Baram, New College of Florida

Gender and Anthropology is excellent. It is a major accomplishment of synthesis and distillation.” — Naomi Quinn, Duke University

“In Gender and Anthropology, authors Frances Mascia-Lees and Nancy Johnson Black provide a concise, critical, and lucidly written guide to the last 30 years’ research and theory in gender within anthropology that is explicitly directed to undergraduate students. The brevity of each chapter and the necessary simplification of the arguments actually make it a useful adjunct to undergraduate study and an affordable volume as well.” —American Anthropologist

“This little book is one of the clearest, most concise statements on social theory in general, let alone on gender, that I have ever read. Kudos!” —R. O. Havenlandt, University of Great Falls

“I have waited years for a simple, student-accessible theory book . . . the feminist oriented literature has become so sophisticated, involuted (or should I say poorly written) and dominated by a post-colonial critique, that it totally alienates my students. This, at last, presents us with a comprehensive overview of analytic and theoretical approaches in the anthropology of gender studies that is easy for students to read and critique.” —Dona Davis, University of South Dakota

“I found this volume to be an excellent, concise overview . . . the authors identify historical events, intellectual trends, and political issues that have shaped research and theory on gender in anthropology.” —Jean N. Scandlyn, University of Colorado, Denver
Table of Contents
1. The History of the Study of Gender in Anthropology
Gender as Cultural Construct / The Nature/Nurture Controversy / Roots of the North American Women's Movement / The Women's Movement and the Study of Gender / The Rise of Feminist Anthropology / Conclusions

2. Analyzing Theories
Theoretical Observations / Challenging Essentialism / Variation or Universal Subordination? / Negotiation and Resistance / Cultural Context / Similarities or Differences? / Ethical Choices: What is Oppression? / Conclusions

3. The Evolutionary Orientation
Social Evolutionism / The Feminist Critique of Social Evolutionism / Functionalist Explanations of Gender Roles / The Feminist Critique of Functionalism / Twentieth-Century Evolutionary Arguments / Sociobiology and Selfish Genes / Critique of Sociobiology / Evolutionary Psychology / Critique of Evolutionary Psychology / The Gene as Cultural Icon / An Alternative View / Conclusions

4. The Materialist Orientation
Gendered Labor / Foundations of Materialist Explanations of Gender / Engels' Evolutionary Account / Matriarchies / Matrilineality / Patrilineality and Women's Negotiations / Women-Centered Kinship Networks / Modes of Food Production and the Sexual Division of Labor / Private Property / Public/Private Spheres in State Societies / Critique of the Public/Private Dichotomy / Capitalism / Conclusions

5. The Psychological Orientation
Freud's Psychoanalytic Approach / Margaret Mead and the Culture and Personality School / Chodorow's Psychoanalytic Model / Critique of Freudian Assumptions / Social Learning Theory / Gender Identity / Subjectivity / Judith Butler's Performative Subjectivity / Conclusions

6. Structuralist Approaches
Ideational Approaches to Gender / Lévi-Strauss' Structuralist Model / Critique of Lévi-Strauss / Ortner's Structuralist Model of Women's Oppression / Critique of Ortner / Ortner's Later Work: Practice Theory and the Structure-Agency Debate / Conclusions

7. Discourse Analysis: Poststructural and Sociolinguistic Orientations
Foucault's Poststructuralism / The Feminist Critique of Foucault / Discourses of the Female Body / Sociolinguistic Approaches: Gender and Language / Conclusions

8. The Self-Reflexive Approach and the Postcolonial Critique
The Roots of the Self-Reflexive Approach / Can There Be a Feminist Ethnography? / The Problem of Objectivity / Alternative Ways of Thinking about Culture / Critique of Alternatives / Conclusions

9. Gender and Anthropology in a Global World
Gender Identity in a Global World / Uneven Effects of Globalization / Gender in the Globalized Economy / Gendered Violence / Anthropology and Globalization / Deterritorialization / Conclusions