Concluding Thoughts

James Aimers

Academics in many fields now challenge normative classifications of people and behavior. Just as anthropologists long ago abandoned terms like “savage” and the application of racial classifications, so in archaeology we are gradually abandoning the uncritical use of terms like heterosexual and homosexual and ethnocentric assumptions about gender, sexuality, and their centrality to identity. Foucault wrote about the role of experts in medicine and science in the creation of normative categories. Archaeologists are some of those experts, and we have become more self-critical about our interpretations of issues around sex, gender, and sexuality. In 2007, Dowson (2007) criticized the heteronormativity of museum dioramas which present a timeless view of the nuclear family. Yet as recently as 2013, a study by Solometo and Moss (2013, p. 123) of 70 years of reconstructions of ancient life in National Geographic concluded that “women and women’s work are significantly underrepresented and undervalued” and that a “vigorous archaeology of gender has had little impact on the magazine’s imagined past.” Clearly, we have more to do. Archaeologists who engage with these issues are not just trying to dig up LGBTQ people, we are trying to challenge normativity in all its forms.