Revisiting the Sexual Division of Labor: Thoughts on Ethnoarchaeology and Gender



In gauging the impact of Susan Kent's scholarship, we examine how a controlled ethnoarchaeological comparison of gender and subsistence in circumpolar societies may be used to reassess a bedrock concept of anthropology: the sexual division of labor. Much discourse on this topic is marred by an exclusionary tone. That is, the sexual division of labor is presented as a list of things women cannot do, should not do, or are prohibited from doing by men. Rather than accentuating the negative and proscriptive, comparative ethnoarchaeology suggests that positive contributions of labor specialization by both women and men merit reexamination.