One cannot tell the story of feminist archaeology without Meg Conkey. In 1984, the publishing of her and Janet Spector’s article “Archaeology and the Study of Gender” set off a landslide of feminist projects in archaeology. She and her colleagues pressed against the notion that fieldwork was inherently masculine, and pressured fellow archaeologists to consider the myriad ways that gender shapes human experience, past and present.
“I have been trying to convince people that we can’t explain 20,000 years of material by saying it was all magic for the hunt.” – Meg Conkey, Discover Magazine
They also urged recognition of women in the history of the discipline, or as this blog calls them, trowelblazers. Meg Conkey became one of those women herself and was even recently named one of the 50 most important women in science by Discover Magazine.
Over the years she has continued her dedication to feminist perspectives in archaeology, organizing major conferences, editing books and numerous articles on the topic. Her recent presidency of the Society for American Archaeology symbolizes just how important she, and feminist archaeology, have become in the archaeological community.
Although most famous for her contributions to feminist archaeology, Meg has also spent over 20 years studying the French Paleolithic (the oldest stone age, occurring before the end of the last ice age). Her long-term project in the French Pyrenees explores the wider contexts of cave art and the field methods that shape our conclusions.
Meg’s generosity and service in the archaeological community has rubbed off on her students, receiving multiple awards for excellence in teaching. She is currently a Professor Emeritus at University of California at Berkeley and supervisor of the Center for Digital Archaeology.
Written by Kate Ellenberger (@precatlady)