Circumpolar Lives and Livelihood: A Comparative Ethnoarchaeology of Gender and Subsistence

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, Sami intensive reindeer herders of northwestern Finland, and Inupiaq 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.