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Thinking gender differently: new approaches to identity difference in the central European Neolithic

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Publication details

JournalCambridge Archaeological Journal
DateAccepted/In press - 13 Jul 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print - 21 Oct 2019
DatePublished (current) - 1 May 2020
Issue number2
Number of pages18
Pages (from-to)201-218
Early online date21/10/19
Original languageEnglish


Gender in the European Neolithic has seen little debate, despite major scholarly interest in identity and social relationships. This article considers how gender operated in the Linearbandkeramik (LBK: c.5500–5000 cal BC), the first farming culture of central Europe. A new theoretical approach is developed from the philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari, and the feminist philosopher Braidotti, proposing that how difference and variation are conceived, is an important element in how identity is experienced and performed. The concept of “difference-within-itself” is introduced and applied to an assemblage of c.2350 burials from the LBK via correspondence analysis. The results of this analysis are combined with variation in daily activities and health between male-sexed bodies and female-sexed bodies, to argue that differences between males and females shaped lifeways in the LBK, providing different and varied ways of participating in social life. It is concluded that there was diversity and fluidity in female identities, while male identities had more limited possibilities and were subject to further social constraints. The implications of these gendered differences for models of LBK social organisation are then considered.

Bibliographical note

© McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research 2019


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