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New publication: Thinking Gender Differently: New Approaches to Identity Difference in the Central European Neolithic

Posted on 22 October 2019

Dr Penny Bickle has published a new article on Neolithic gender in the Cambridge Archaeological Journal

Image of an excavated neolithic skeleton

Dr Penny Bickle, a Senior Lecturer specialising in the European Neolithic, has published a new article proposing alternative interpretations for how gender operated in the Neolithic of central Europe to critical acclaim. Dr Marta Diaz-Guardamino (Durham) described the paper as an "original and stimulating approach to gender", while Dr Catherine Frieman (Australian National University) said "This is a really excellent, thought provoking and deeply creative piece of research".
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 organization are then considered.  
Bickle, P. (2019). Thinking Gender Differently: New Approaches to Identity Difference in the Central European Neolithic. Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 1-18. doi:10.1017/S0959774319000453