Constructing gender in contemporary anthropology
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This thesis explores the ways in which gender and contemporary anthropology interact, with the special emphasis on the areas frequently referred to as "poststructuralist" or "postmodern." More specifically, I look at one aspect which postmodern approaches and feminist theories have in common: questioning of the dominant narratives. This questioning then leads through a series of constructed realities (or hyperrealities) to the realization of the importance of the concept of difference(s) in all its aspects. The ethnographic examples are from the Republics of Slovenia (primarily concerning feminist groups and scholars) and Macedonia (the region of Prespa, in the southwestern part of the country). In both countries the fall of communism has created a sort of a power hiatus, filled with questions about identity, the future and ways to organize the newly emerging societies (since both countries became independent in 1991). In that regard, both countries are hyper real. After the Introduction, I outline the debates surrounding "postmodern" approaches in anthropology, different theoretical assumptions, as well as the area(s) where these approaches can inform anthropological research. I start with the overview of the working definitions of "postmodernism" and the attitudes towards it that characterize current anthropological theory, continuing with what I regard to be the most illustrative examples of it being misunderstood and misrepresented, and concluding with the meeting point of postmodern anthropology and the study of gender. In the following chapters I present the results of my field research in Macedonia and in Slovenia, concluding with the theoretical implications of contemporary anthropological approaches to the study of gender, as well as the reasons for presenting it as basically a social construct. In Conclusion, I point out at the fact that gender studies seem to be the only area where postmodernism and anthropology interact in the most positive way, primarily through the full exploration of the concept of difference(s).
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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