Attention to Gender and War in Anthropology

Anthropology has long taken gender seriously in studying war, in contrast to political science and history (Goldstein, 2001, pp. 34-36). Margaret Mead's (1967, p. 236) conclusion in the first major anthropological symposium on war called for paying "particular attention ... to the need of young males to validate their strength and courage, and to... the conspicuous unwillingness of most human societies to arm women." Anthropological thinking that connects war and gender is not limited to one ideological perspective, nor just to female scholars. Also, anthropology engages gender even though women are poorly represented among anthropologists studying war. Still, attention to gender in studying war has been inconsistent. In anthropology volumes on war, the number of index entries concerning gender are as follows: Fried, Harris, and Murphy (1967), two; Nettleship, Givens, and Nettleship (1975), none; Ferguson (1984), four; Foster and Rubinstein (1986), thirteen; Turner and Pitt (1989), none; Haas (1990), eight; Ferguson and Whitehead (1992), two; Reyna and Downs (1994), none.

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