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Circumpolar Lives and Livelihood

A Comparative Ethnoarchaeology of Gender and Subsistence

Robert Jarvenpa

Publication Year: 2006

Circumpolar Lives and Livelihood is a cross-cultural ethnoarchaeological study of the gendered nature of subsistence in northern hunter-gatherer-fisher societies. Based on field studies of four circumpolar societies, it documents the complexities of women’s and men’s involvement in food procurement, processing, and storage, and the relationship of such behaviors to the built landscape. Avoiding simplistic stereotypes of male and female roles, the framework of “gendered landscapes” reveals the variability and flexibility of women’s and men’s actual lives in a manner useful for archaeological interpretations of hunter-foragers.

Innovative in scope and design, this is the first study to employ a controlled, four-way, cross-cultural comparison of gender and subsistence. Members of an international team of anthropologists experienced in northern scholarship apply the same task-differentiation methodology in studies of Chipewyan hunter-fishers of Canada, Khanty hunter-fisher-herders of Western Siberia, Sámi intensive reindeer herders of northwestern Finland, and Iñupiaq maritime hunters of the Bering Strait of Alaska. This database on gender and subsistence is used to reassess one of the bedrock concepts in anthropology and social science: the sexual division of labor.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vii-x

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pp. xi-xii

The seeds of this volume were planted in the early 1990s, when we began experimenting with ethnoarchaeological approaches to gender and subsistence in northern Canada. We are especially grateful for the patient guidance and insights of our Chipewyan friends and colleagues Albert Aubichon, Cecile Aubichon, ...

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1. Introduction: Gender, Subsistence, and Ethnoarchaeology

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pp. 1-23

Daily events and conversations such as those described above are part of the empirical backbone of this book, which examines the interplay of gender dynamics and subsistence systems among hunter–gatherer and hunter–herder societies. More pointedly, how do variability and subtlety in female and male economic behaviors ...

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2. Chipewyan Society and Gender Relations

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pp. 24-53

The Kesyehot’ine, or Poplar House People, are descendants of Dene or Athapaskan-speaking Chipewyan Indians who moved southward into the Upper Churchill River drainage of north-central Canada during the late 18th century to participate in the expanding Euro-Canadian fur market economy (Gillespie 1975:368–374; Smith 1975:43). ...

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3. Chipewyan Hunters: A Task Differentiation Analysis

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pp. 54-78

This chapter explores the role of gender in structuring subsistence hunting activities in Chipewyan society and the implications that such behaviors hold for interpreting gender patterning in archaeological contexts. The substance for our discussion derives, in part, from long-termethnographic and ethnoarchaeological ...

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4. Khanty Society and Gender Relations

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pp. 79-114

The Khanty (formerly known as the Ostyaki) are a Finno–Ugric people dwelling in the north of western Siberia (Map 4.1). Together with their closest linguistic relatives, the Mansi, the Khanty compose an ethnic group known as Ob–Ugrians. They are one of the 26 widely dispersed, small groups of indigenous peoples of northern Russia. ...

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5. Khanty Hunter–Fisher–Herders: A Task Differentiation Analysis of Trom’Agan Women’s and Men’s Subsistence Activities

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pp. 115-157

As pointed out in Chapter 4, the subsistence pattern of inner taiga dwellers based on hunting, fishing, gathering, and reindeer herding was well established during the Stone Age and has remained relatively unchanged until recently. Its continuity over the course of millennia is accounted for by an intensive land-use pattern ...

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6. Sámi Society and Gender Relations

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pp. 158-185

After the Ice Age ended around 9500 BC in Fennoscandia and the climate became warmer, human populations began moving into modern-day Lapland, or Sámi Land, in four countries (Finland, Sweden, Norway, Russia) from two directions. Reindeer hunters from Denmark moved northward along the Norwegian coast, from where they also moved inland. ...

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7. Sámi Reindeer Herders: A Task Differentiation Analysis

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pp. 186-237

By the early 1990s researchers at the University of Oulu had become familiar with the community of Kultima when they did fieldwork in the main village of the Käsivarsi region, Kaaresuvanto, about 30 kilometers from Kultima. Fieldwork for the present project was accomplished during three sessions in 1999. ...

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8. Iñupiaq Society and Gender Relations

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pp. 238-262

Eskimo seafaring communities tend to define themselves through cultural traditions and systems of knowledge developed over centuries in conjunction with the demands of arctic hunting, gathering, and fishing. The Alaska Native village of Ingaliq, on Little Diomede Island, is such a community.3 ...

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9. Iñupiaq Maritime Hunters: Summer Subsistence Work in Diomede

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pp. 263-286

Ingaliq, the only community on Little Diomede Island, is sharply seasonal in its physical appearance and in the activities that occupy its residents.Winter is characterized by storms, high winds, heavy snow and ice cover, and, sometime between mid-December and mid- to late January, freeze-up between the two Diomedes ...

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10. Conclusion: Toward a Comparative Ethnoarchaeology of Gender

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pp. 287-324

We have examined four Circumpolar societies in terms of their subsistence economies and gender dynamics. Task differentiation analysis has revealed major distinctions, subtle differences, as well as unexpected parallels and flexibility in the repertoires of roles and actions exhibited by women and men. ...

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Notes on Contributors

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pp. 325-326

Hetty Jo Brumbach is associate curator of anthropology, Department of Anthropology, University at Albany, and research associate at the New York State Museum. She received a doctorate in anthropology from the State University of New York. Her research and publications focus on archaeology and ethnoarchaeology. ...


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pp. 327-330

E-ISBN-13: 9780803252929
E-ISBN-10: 0803252927

Publication Year: 2006