Gender, Utopias and the Savage Slot: The Role of Anthropology in the (De)Construction of a Concept

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Irene Peano

Abstract

The paper addresses some of the ways in which anthropology, as a discourse and a discipline, has contributed to the forging as much as of the problematisation of the concept of gender, not only within the feminist, queer and LGBTQI camps, but also among Catholic fundamentalists. It argues that, despite some recent genealogical critiques of the concept of gender and its origins in mid-20th century bio-medical governance, insufficient attention has been paid to the role of the so-called ‘savage slot’ - as Rolph Trouillot defined the domain of knowledge carved out for anthropology, in a wider scheme of thought that has its origins at the same time as ‘the West’ became a reality. A more thorough genealogy of the ways in which anthropological thinking and evidence contributed to the construction, and then the deconstruction, of gender, can provide fruitful tools for a deeper challenge of the apparatus of gender itself.

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How to Cite
Peano, I. (2019). Gender, Utopias and the Savage Slot: The Role of Anthropology in the (De)Construction of a Concept. ETHICS IN PROGRESS, 10(1), 112-128. https://doi.org/10.14746/eip.2019.1.9
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Core topics-related articles
Author Biography

Irene Peano, University of Lisbon

Irene Peano holds a PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge and is currently employed as a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon, within an ERC Project titled 'The colour of labour: the racialised lives of migrants' (PI Cristiana Bastos). Her main research areas include migration and labour (particularly sex work and farm labour), especially from the point of view of subjectification and resistance and in relation to patterns of containment and exploitation in their various (spatial, material, discursive, legal, intersubjective, affective) dimensions. Among these, processes of racialization and gendering are prominent focuses of her analysis. Besides engaging in participatory research, she also investigates these processes through genealogical methods, focusing specifically on the afterlives of forms of forced labour, racialisation and techniques of containment, and on how they manifest also in the history of ideas, within and outside academia.

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