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Department of Archaeology

Thursday, 18 February, 2021 - 17:30 to 19:30
Event speaker: 

A series of short talks, co-organised by the University of Cambridge Archaeological Field Club, will explore the topics of sexuality and gender in the past.

The talks will be followed with an opportunity for further discussion and networking. 

Confirmed speakers: 

Dr Sophus Helle, Aarhus University "What would a Queer Philology Entail?"

Abstract: Over the past fifteen years, philology has undergone a quiet revolution, as scholars from across the endless philological subfields have begun to think critically and in new ways about the complicated past and gloomy future of their field. Once dominant but long neglected, philology is now being rediscovered as the rich, motley, and global endeavor that it is. Race-critical, postcolonial, and “world” philologies have stepped onto the disciplinary scene—but what would a queer approach to philology entail? Using the examples of the Babylonian gender-bending ritual performers assinnu’s and kurgarrû’s, I argue that queer theory can help philology reflect on and refine some of its most fundamental (but almost always unstated) methodological assumptions.

Prof María Fernanda Ugalde, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador and Prof O. Hugo Benavides, Fordham University "Homosexual Harems, Lesbian Mothers, Third-Gender Weavers and other normative tales from the Andean Past: Archaeology's Conflicted Epistemologies"

Abstract: If one would look at the Andean pasts with “objectivity” and “neutrality” one would readily see a myriad of queer social subjects (like those mentioned in the title).  But what does it mean to look with neutrality for a discipline based on a supposed traditional objectivity?  And even more so if that objectivity is imbued with power only when espoused by a Western, elite, white, heteronormative masculinity?  These Andean queer contributions further elucidate the conflicting epistemologies of archaeological research in our postcolonial times, and the powerful implications of attempting to research a decolonized past.

Zachary Nissen, Northwestern University "Before the Binary: Queer Archaeologies and social diversity in Pre-colonial Latin America" 

Abstract: Since the latter half of the 20thcentury, queer and feminist voices have drawn attention to the ways that rigid identity systems (e.g. male/female; man/woman; straight/gay; cis/trans) constrain and erase variability in the ways people live their lives and relate to themselves and others as gendered and sexed beings. In this talk, I will discuss how queer archaeologies enable the exploration of culturally and historically specific contexts and identities that were made possible before these binary systems, with specific examples from research on pre-colonial Latin America. 


Please join us on Zoom for this live event.  All are welcome, but registration is required. 

Please register here:

Contact name: 
Laure Bonner
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