Gender and the Local-Global Nexus: Theory, Research, and Action: Volume 10


Table of contents

(12 chapters)

With Volume 10, Gender and the Local/Global Nexus: Theory, Research and Action, a milestone has been reached in Advances in Gender Research. When we began to work on Volume 1 (Segal & Demos, 1996) of the series, we called for papers that advanced knowledge of gender theoretically, methodologically and in practice. That volume subtitled, “Theory, Methods and Praxis,” contains six papers exploring trans-genderism, love and gender stratification, gender issues among African Americans, women's liberation and strategies for social change. With the exception of one, each article focuses on advances in gender knowledge culturally relevant to North America.

Based on eighteen-months of fieldwork in Sulawesi, Indonesia, this paper advances two arguments concerning gender. First, it contends that gender is a concept of great significance in Sulawesi. Unlike some observers who have undervalued the centrality of gender in the region by asserting that factors such as social status are more salient in daily life than gender, this paper argues that gender actually underscores other factors such as status considerations. The second argument the paper advances is that gender in Sulawesi is a holist concept resulting from various compositions of biology, subjectivity, sexuality, performativity, and ideology. A multitude of amalgamations are possible and so gendered identities transcend binary constructions. As such, Sulawesi acknowledges a variety of gendered identities. Using ethnographic data to examine how these various aspects contribute to an individual's gender identity, this paper reveals the importance of gender in Sulawesi, and introduces a holistic way of thinking of gender.

Most well-known conceptualizations of sex, gender and sexuality privilege one version or another of a Western European or North American bi-polar paradigm. However, such a focus ignores the ethnographic evidence for a larger range of sex–gender–sexuality constructs. This paper outlines parameters for known variations in cultural constructs of sex–gender–sexuality systems, and raises questions about contemporary trends in understanding sex, gender and sexuality. As a first step, and because the data are more plentiful, I focus on variations in cultural constructions of sex, gender and sexuality relevant to physiological males, leaving a thorough exploration of constructions relevant to physiological females for another paper. The contemporary spread of Western cultural hegemony, as well as some opposition to that model, has categorized many indigenous, multi-polar sex–gender–sexuality systems as either in need of modernization or simply not quite civilized. The result is a loss, not only of knowledge about human plasticity in this area, but also a loss of cultural flexibility in organizing and dealing with human biocultural variation.

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This paper is concerned with identifying and discussing how archaeologists may have engendered the past in unintended ways and produced versions of social relations that, in the course of searching for antagonistic gender relations, project our own (feminist) desires of equality, autonomy, and agency onto past societies. It is proposed that an adequate recognition of the different dimensions of gender may help us to differentiate cultural understandings of gender from the ideological use of gender categories to establish hierarchical social relations.

Academic and popular commentators of Asia find it almost impossible not to reach for metaphors of breathtaking economic and social change, fanned by the winds of globalization. This chapter explores the extent to which young Asian values concerning gender relations in the household, pornography and prostitution are similar to or different from those of young westerners. While some respondents themselves talk of the impact of globalization on attitudes in their countries, clear differences in attitudes as well as vocabularies or justifications for those attitudes are found, the Asian samples, usually but not always, expressing a different set of responses from the Anglophone or Western samples.

This study is a secondary analysis of attitudinal data collected by the World Values Study Group in 1990. Focus is upon differences in sex role ideology among the North American countries of Canada, the United States, and Mexico. Specifically, efforts are made to determine if Mexico exhibits significantly more conservative attitudes about gender roles than its northern neighbors. Further emphasis will be placed upon determining whether or not the notion of “machismo” truly exists among Mexican males. The population consists of persons 18 years of age or older and was selected by stratified random sample in the United States and Canada, and quota sampling in Mexico. Weights are employed to ensure that the samples are nationally representative.

Findings suggest that, after the implementation of demographic and attitudinal controls, Mexicans are slightly more likely to exhibit more traditional attitudes about appropriate gender behavior. The “notion” of an element of “machismo” in Mexico, however, does not hold up to the rigors of statistical analysis. Instead, findings illustrate that being a male in Canada or the United States is more likely to predict conservative gender role ideology than being a male in Mexico. Nevertheless, being male was one of the weaker predictors of conservative gender ideologies in all of the models. Finally, the strongest correlations were between the dependent variable and the age at which the respondent finished school, age of respondent, and political ideology.

In this paper I draw some reflections from the experience of the Free University of Women in Milan, Italy. Through this experience it was possible to clarify some of the main issues at stake in feminist knowledge production and pedagogy such as: the relationship between women's and feminist culture, the knowledge production processes which occur among women, their epistemology, and the kind of scientific rigor of such a body of knowledge. These issues are particularly important from the perspective of teaching and transmitting feminism to a new generation of women.

Even in the context of marginalization, agency as a feminist academic exists and, in some cases, the marginalization enables us to continue our feminist projects. This paper describes my experience as a marginalized feminist academic. It is based on fieldwork practice, academic training, and encounters as a professor at several universities in the United States, Russia, and Latin America. Currently, in the milieu of the USA Patriot Act, when academic freedom seems to be on the cutting block, we must, more than ever, continue to be grrrila fighters in order to continue our feminist projects and move feminist perspectives from the margins to the center.

Most studies of postcommunist Eastern Europe provide macro-economic and political analyses of the democratic transition. This paper uses the case of feminists publicizing efforts around domestic violence in Slovakia to explore how people express and sustain collective action in transitional democracies without established traditions of civic engagement. The analysis is situated in the complex historical juncture of the 1990s, which includes Slovakia's impending admission to the European Union, while its population remains politically apathetic and suspicious of mass movements and organizations as a result of the country's communist legacy. Drawing on participant observation and in-depth interviews, it is argued that feminists’ strategic issue networks in the particular historical circumstances facilitated the speedy criminalization of domestic violence, but could not generate a cultural transformation of public and political attitudes. Sudden progressive legislative changes and the simplistic marketing campaign in a conservative political climate impeded the diffusion of a feminist definition of violence against women in related policy areas.

Using the concepts of resistance, identity construction, and communicative democracy, I explore the possibility that older women's life histories create and occupy a potentially transformative space within global research on gender. First, such narratives challenge existing hierarchies of age and gender that systematically disadvantage older women. Second, older women use them to assert their own more complex identities (in opposition to those limiting identities assigned to them by others). Third, through their life stories, older women can contribute to democratic dialogue in society at large. I use life history interviews conducted with older women in Cuernavaca, Mexico from 1995 to 1997 as a specific case that supports my overall argument. I contend that the first two processes are already taking place through the act of storytelling and life history narration itself. The more radical methodological claim of this paper is that the act of constructing and communicating life stories is a legitimate and valuable exercise of (political) power.

About the Authors

Pages 219-223
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Paul J. Bryan is currently employed with Bromley Communications, the largest U.S. advertising agency with a focus on the Hispanic consumer. He obtained his Bachelor's degree in Sociology and Political Science from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 1996, where he studied under Richard J. Harris and Juanita M. Firestone.

Subject Index

Pages 225-227
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Publication date
Book series
Advances in Gender Research
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
Book series ISSN