Archaeology beyond the great hunter

2010-03-17 10:46

Tove Hjørungdal, new Professor of Archaeology at the University of Gothenburg, uses the gender perspective in her research.

How does it feel to be a professor?

– It feels great. It feels like a confirmation of the importance of feministic perspectives. I’m hoping to be able to help students use feminist theory, for example by teaching courses on the topic. I’m also hoping to be able to engage in more research than before.

What topics are you currently focusing on?

– I’ve just started a project that deals with archaeological constructions of hunting and gathering cultures. By looking at what people hunted and gathered instead of focusing on the ‘Great Hunter’, we can explore how different individuals, and not just adult men, contributed to their societies.

Why is the issue of gender important within the field of archaeology?

– We are experts in material things, and that’s of course important if we want to understand our long history. But the inclusion of gender is necessary if we want to get a complete picture and steer away from common simplifications. For example, people’s understanding of the Viking Age is full of stereotypes. However, both old and new research shows that there was much more to the story. For example, women held many  important positions in society and were responsible for the production of many goods.

Which questions are the most important for gender researchers within the field of archaeology?

– There is a huge interest in gender within the field of archaeology – it’s fair to say it has actually become mainstream. At this point, it is important that we pave the way for feminist theories. We also need to increase the general level of knowledge regarding the basics of science and how research is influenced by contemporary political and scientific ideas. It’s very important that we discuss who should have the privilege of interpreting scientific findings.

Author Charlie Olofsson
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