Dislocating Masculinity: Comparative Ethnographies (Male by A. Cornwall

By A. Cornwall

This ebook attracts upon anthropology, feminism and postmodernism to provide a penetrating and hard research of the way gender operates. The ebook deals an intensive critique of a lot of the hot writing on and by way of males and increases vital questions about emodiment, organisation and the range of masculine kinds.

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Strathern argues that every action is inherently forceful because it is inherently transformative (see below). As a general position, this makes sense, but it cannot account for the ways force is defined, enacted and experienced by others. Rather, as our discussion of the macho man and numerous examples from our ethnographies show, the puzzle lies in how local definitions and judgements about violence are linked to local attributions of masculinity. Moore (forthcoming) argues from ethnographic examples that gendered violence is a consequence of people’s inability to control their presentation of themselves or how they are represented by others.

It has also been neglected in much of the men’s studies literature, where further simplistic discriminations generate categories such as ‘gay men’ and ‘black men’ that mask more complex relations of inequality and identity (cf. Forrest, Chapter 5 in this volume; Back, Chapter 10). The definition of ‘masculinity’ offered by the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary is not neutral. Yet it is authoritatively presented as if it is the only correct form of masculinity. When such an idea is used to establish and enhance the relative power of some people to the detriment of others, it obviously has wider political implications.

Gilmore, whose Manhood in the Making (1990) is one of the few crosscultural studies of masculinity, anachronistically cites Shapiro’s criticism that in anthropologies of gender, GENDER, POWER AND ANTHROPOLOGY 27 the focus is on women; the social and cultural dimensions of maleness are often dealt with implicitly rather than explicitly. Much of the recent crosscultural research is not only about women, but by women, and in some sense, for women. (Shapiro 1979:269, quoted in Gilmore 1990:1) Gilmore attempts to make good this imbalance by providing a cross-cultural survey of how ‘people in different cultures conceive and experience manhood… as the approved ways of being an adult male in any given society’ (1990:1).

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