Marilyn Strathern - The language of gender: Problems and counter-problems in anthropological description (Atelier Genre(s) et Sexualité(s) - ULB)


The language of gender: Problems and counter-problems in anthropological description 
Marilyn Strathern (University of Cambridge)
Avec le Laboratoire d’anthropologie des mondes contemporains
This is a work in progress paper, imagined as a kind of clearing ground for a more extensive project on relationality, kinship and otherwise.  What has to be cleared up, or cleared out of the way, are formulations of gender and sexuality that at one stage seemed to be solutions to problems in the conceptualization of social life.  The publication of a text written more than forty years ago brings all this into sharp focus for the author.  Before and After Gender (orig. 1974 / 2016) speaks to a world of problems largely superseded.  Nonetheless, some of its solutions seeped into The Gender of the Gift (1988), with an extended life in the form of new problems; the latter [GOG] in turn generated more solutions, such as certain renderings of the ‘partible person’ or ‘androgyne’, only these days to have become problems in their own right.  Conceiving the process by which one generation of problematics produces another prompts a fresh perspective on recent work that has revisited Melanesian gender ideology.  In any event, perhaps the fineness of the line between maintaining responsibility for one’s words and recognizing when they have had their day justifies the personal nature of this account. 

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