chapter  12
19 Pages

Gender archaeology in Polynesia

Past, present and future
WithCynthia L. Van Gilder

Since the 1980s, gender archaeologists have been developing methodological and analytical approaches to illuminate previously unseen identities and processes in the archaeological record. Practice theory, with its explicit conceptualisation of how small- and large-scale historical phenomena are interlinked, is one of the tools showing tremendous potential in this area. Polynesian archaeologists have long used the area’s extensive ethnohistorical, ethnographic and oral tradition records with their archaeological data, though largely without explicitly articulating their theoretical relationships. This chapter gives a brief overview of archaeological gender theory (and its relationship to gender anthropology), reviews the most significant studies of gender and women’s lives in Polynesian archaeology to date and demonstrates the potential of a ‘gender as practice’ approach in a case study from the Hawaiian islands.