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Unit of study_

ANTH2623: Anthropology of Gender and Sexualities

Semester 2, 2020 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This unit explores anthropological approaches to genders, gender relations and sexualities in different cultural settings across the world. Students will gain insights into ethnographically informed analysis of local and global practices and ideas that reproduce, but can also challenge, dominant views of genders and forms of sexuality, and how such views are implicated in structures of inequality that fundamentally shape people's everyday lives and experiences.

Unit details and rules

Unit code ANTH2623
Academic unit Anthropology
Credit points 6
ANTH2020 or ANTH2023
12 credit points at 1000 level in Anthropology or 12 credit points at 1000 level in Gender Studies
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Holly High,
Tutor(s) Holly High,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Final essay
50% Formal exam period
Due date: 23 Nov 2020 at 23:00
2,000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Presentation Presentation
10% Ongoing 10 minutes//500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Essay
20% Week -04
Due date: 18 Sep 2020 at 23:00
1,000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Essay
20% Week 08
Due date: 19 Oct 2020 at 23:00
1,000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO3 LO2

Assessment summary

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a High distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a Distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

HD (85-90): Work that is outstanding for a second year student and shows potential for distinguished performance at higher levels.

Written work demonstrates initiative and ingenuity in research, pointed and critical analysis of material, and innovative interpretation of ethnographic evidence. It offers an insightful contribution to anthropological debate, engages with values, assumptions and contested meanings contained within ethnographic evidence, and develops sophisticated, theoretically inflected arguments on the strength of anthropological research and interpretation. It shows a high

degree of professionalism in presentation, and the writing is characterised by creativity, style and precision.


HD+ (90-100): Work whose quality exceeds normal expectations for outstanding work at second year. Written work more than meets the criteria for a High Distinction, displaying a marked degree of originality and/or scholarly professionalism. Depending on the task assigned, the exceptional qualities might include suggestion of a new perspective from which to view a problem, identification of a problem not adequately recognised in the standard literature, methodological and/or conceptual innovation, or a particularly creative approach to writing.


75 - 84

DISTINCTION (75-84%): Work that shows proficiency in the discipline of Anthropology. Written work reflects successful initiative in research and reading as well as complex understanding and original analysis of subject matter, with attentiveness to both the cultural and the scholarly context. It engages perceptively with ethnographic material and takes a critical, interrogative stance in relation to anthropological argument and interpretation. It has near-flawless referencing and evidence to support arguments, and, especially at the higher levels, the writing is characterised by style, clarity and some creativity.


65 - 74

CREDIT (65-74%):

Low Credit (65-69): Promising work suggesting potential for further development. Written work contains evidence of broad reading, offers synthesis and some critical evaluation of secondary material, argues a position in relation to one or more existing scholarly approaches and/or shows some sophistication in its use of primary material. The introduction clearly states the approach being taken and/or the position being argued. The essay is characterised by good selection of evidence, logical argument and grasp of relevant ethnographic material. It shows some evidence of independent thought and an extra spark of insight.


High Credit (70-74): Work of significant promise. Written work provides evidence of extensive reading and initiative in research, sound grasp of subject matter and appreciation of key issues and context. It engages critically with the question and attempts an analytical evaluation of primary and/or secondary material as required for the task assigned. It makes a good attempt to critique various scholarly

approaches and offers thoughtful comment on the issues in an existing anthropological debate. It shows some evidence of ability to think theoretically as well as contextualise material culturally, and to

conceptualise and problematise issues in anthropological terms. Work awarded a high credit is generally well written and always well referenced and supported with appropriate evidence; it often contains evidence of original interpretation or creative thought.


50 - 64

PASS (50-64%)

Low Pass (50-54): Work of a barely acceptable standard.

Written work contains evidence of minimal reading and some understanding of subject matter. It typically features summary and paraphrase of relevant material with little interpretation or analysis. It reflects a reasonable attempt to organise material logically and comprehensibly and to provide scholarly documentation. There may be gaps in any or all of these areas.

Medium Pass (55-59): Work of a satisfactory standard. Written work meets basic requirements in terms of reading and research. It demonstrates a reasonable understanding of subject matter, offers a synthesis of relevant material and shows a genuine effort to avoid paraphrasing, to offer interpretation and to provide acceptable referencing and evidence. It has a comprehensible structure organised around an identifiable theme. There may be weaknesses in particular areas.

High Pass (60-64): Meritorious work containing some elements that are of credit standard. Written work contains evidence of a broad and reasonably accurate command of the subject matter and some sense of its broader significance. It identifies the principal issues and some key scholarly approaches to them, and shows some awareness of the nature

and pitfalls of ethnographic evidence. It goes beyond synthesis to propose an argument, although there may be weaknesses of clarity, structure or use of evidence in the case as presented. Properly documented, it shows signs of one or more of the following: attention

to expression and fluency; independent thought; and critical response to existing interpretations of ethnographic material.


0 - 49

FAIL (Below 50%)

Work not of an acceptable standard. Work may fail for any or all of the following reasons: lack of sufficient research using appropriate sources; irrelevance of content; failure to answer the specific question or treat

the specified theme; wholesale lack of analysis or interpretation;

unacceptable levels of paraphrasing; significant deficiencies in presentation, grammar or structure; incomprehensible expression; very late submission without an extension.


For more information see


For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Origins of gender inequality Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 02 Feminism and anthropology Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 03 Gender fluidity Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 04 Third gender Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 05 Discourse Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 06 Sexuality, the state and race Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 07 Reading week Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 08 The feminine masquerade Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 09 Performativity Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 10 The body Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 11 Gendered violence Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 12 Representation Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4

Attendance and class requirements

  • Attendance: According to Faculty Board Resolutions, students in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences are expected to attend 90% of their classes. If you attend less than 50% of classes, regardless of the reasons, you may be referred to the Examiner’s Board. The Examiner’s Board will decide whether you should pass or fail the unit of study if your attendance falls below this threshold.

  • Lecture recording: Most lectures (in recording-equipped venues) will be recorded and may be made available to students on the LMS. However, you should not rely on lecture recording to substitute your classroom learning experience.

  • Preparation: Students should commit to spend approximately three hours’ preparation time (reading, studying, homework, essays, etc.) for every hour of scheduled instruction.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

Prescribed readings


WEEK 1: Origins of gender inequality


Required readings:


Rubin, Gayle. 1975. The traffic in women: Notes on the ‘political economy’ of sex. Towards an anthropology of women. Monthly View Press: New York.


Engels, Friedrich. N.D. "The origin of the family, private property, and the state." Section II “The Family”.


Suggested readings:


Ortner, Sherry B. 1972. "Is female to male as nature is to culture?"  Feminist Studies 1 (2):5-31.


Leacock, Elanor. 1983. "Interpreting the origins of gender inequality: conceptual and historical problems."  Dialectical Anthropology 7:263-284.


Hrdy, Sarah. 2009. “Meet the Alloparents.” Natural History. 118:3. Pp 24-29.


Gottlieb, A. 2009 'Who minds the baby? Beng perspectives on mothers, neighbors, and strangers as caretakers' In Bentley, Gillian R., Mace, Ruth (eds) Substitute parents: biological and social perspective on alloparenting across human societies.


Stratern, Marilyn. “Domesticity and the denigration of women.” In D. O’Brien and S. Tiffany (eds). Rethinking women’s roles: Perspectives from the Pacific. University of California Press: Berkeley. Pp 13-31.


Eriksen, T.H. Gender and age. Part on gender only. Small places large issues Fourth edition. Pluto Press: London. Pp 155-168.



WEEK 2: Feminism and anthropology


Required readings:


Moore, Henrietta. Chapter 2: “Gender and status: Explaining the position of women.” Feminism and anthropology. Polity Press: Cambridge.


Khadenwhal, Meena. 2016. “Cooking with firewood. Deep meaning and environmental materialities in a globalized world.” In Silverstein, L.M. & Lewin, E. (eds) Mapping feminist anthropology in the twenty-first century. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, pp. 211-233.


Suggested readings:


H.L. Moore 1999 “Whatever happened to women and men? Gender and other crises in anthropology” In H.L.Moore (ed) Anthropological Theory Today. Polity Press: Cambridge.


Silverstein, L.M. & Lewin, E., 2016. Introduction: Anthropologies and Feminisms: Mapping Our Intellectual Journey. In L. M. Silverstein & E. Lewin, eds. Mapping Feminist Anthropology in the Twenty-First Century. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, pp. 6–37.


WEEK 3: Gender fluidity


Required readings:


Meigs, Anna S. 1976. “Male Pregnancy and the Reduction of Sexual Opposition in a New Guinea Highlands Society.” Ethnology. 15:4. Pp 393-407.


Strathern, Marilyn. 1984. “Subject or object? Women and the circulation of valuables in Highlands New Guinea.” In R. Hirschon (ed). Women and Property, women as property. Croom Helm: London. Pp 158-175.


Suggested readings:


Gillison, G. 1991 “The flute myth and the law of equivalence: origins of a principle of exchange” In (eds) M Godelier and M Strathern Big Men and Great Men: Personifications of Power in Melanesia. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.


Strathern, Marilyn. 1980. “No nature, no culture: the Hagen case.” In C. MacCormack and M. Strathern (eds). Nature, Culture and Gender. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge. Pp 174-222.


Riviere, Paul. “The Couvade: A problem reborn.” Man N.S. 9:3 Pp 423-435.



WEEK 4: Third Gender


Required readings:


Nanda, S., 1985. “The Hijras of India: Cultural and Individual Dimensions of an Institutionalized Third Gender Role.” Journal of Homosexuality, 11(3–4), pp.35–54.

Towle, E.B. & Morgan, L.M., 1969. “Romancing the Transgender Native: Rethinking the Use of the ‘Third Gender’ Concept.” In S. Stryker & S. Whittle, eds. The Transgender Studies Reader. London: Routledge, pp. 666–684.


Suggested readings:


Dutta, A. & Roy, R., 2014. “Decolonizing Transgender in India: Some Reflections.” Transgender Studies Quarterly, 1(3), pp.320–337.


Jackson, P.A., 1997. “Kathoey>Sites of Desire. Economies of Pleasure: Sexualities in Asia and the Pacific. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 168–190.


WEEK 5: Discourse


Required readings:


Foucault, M., 1978. “The Repressive Hypothesis.” In The History of Sexuality, Vol. I: An Introduction. London: Penguin, pp. 17–49.

Boellstorff, T., 2003. “Dubbing Culture: Indonesian Gay and Lesbi Subjectivities and Ethnography in an Already Globalized World.” American Ethnologist, 30(2), pp.225–242.


Suggested readings:

Stoler, Ann L. Chapter 1. “Colonial studies and the history of sexuality.” Race and the education of desire: Foucault’s history of sexuality and the colonial order of things. Duke University Press: Durham and London. Pp 19-54.


WEEK 6: Sexuality, the state and race


Required readings:


Cowlishaw, Gillian. 2020. “Black loves matter.” Inside story 14th July 2020.


Stoler, Ann. 1992. “Sexual Affronts and Racial Frontiers: European Identities and the Cultural Politics of Exclusion in Colonial Southeast Asia.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 34:3. Pp 514-551.






WEEK 7: Reading week  

No set readings: use this week to catch up on previous suggested readings and work on your essays.



WEEK 8: The feminine masquerade


Required readings:


Martin, Emily. 1991. “The egg and the sperm: How sciences has constructed a romance based on stereotypes of male-female roles.” Signs. 16:3. Pp 485-501.


Riviere, Joan. 1991. “Defensive femininity.” The inner world and Joan Riviere, Collected papers: 1920-1958. Athol Hughes (ed). Karnac Books: London. Pp 89-101.


Suggested readings:


Strathern, Marilyn. 2016. Gender stereotypes. Before and after gender. Hau Press: Chicago.


Price, Neil; Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson, Torun Zachrisson, Anna Kjellström, Jan Storå, Maja Krzewińska, Torsten Günther, Verónica Sobrado, Mattias Jakobsson & Anders Götherström. 2019. “Viking warrior women? Reassessing Birka chamber grave Bj.581” Antiquity 93:367, pp 181-198.


Hrdy, Sarah. 1999. Preface to 1999 edition. The woman that never evolved. Harvard University Press: Cambridge, Mass and London.



WEEK 9: Performativity


Required readings:


Butler, J., 2004. “Doing Justice to Someone: Sex Reassignment and Allegories of Transexuality.” In Undoing Gender. New York: Routledge, pp. 57–74.

Kramer, Elise. “Feminist linguistics and linguistic feminisms.” 2016. In L. M. Silverstein & E. Lewin, eds. Mapping Feminist Anthropology in the Twenty-First Century. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, Pp 65-83.


Suggested readings:


Johnson, M., 2003. “Anomalous bodies: transgenderings and cultural transformations.” In J. Weeks, J. Holland, & M. Waites, eds. Sexualities and Society: A Reader. Cambridge: Polity Press, pp. 105–117.



WEEK 10: The body


Required readings:


Lock, Margaret M. 1993. Chapter 1 “The turn of life—unstable meanings.” Encounters with ageing: Mythologies of menopause in Japan and North America. University of California Press: Berkeley. Pp 3-30.


Scheper-Hughes, Nancy and Margaret M. Lock. 1987. “The mindful body: A prolegomenon to future work in medical anthropology.” Medical anthropology quarterly. 1:1 Pp6-41.


Suggested readings:


Emily Martin. 1989. “Medical Metaphors of Women's Bodies: Menstruation and Menopause.” The Woman in the Body: A Cultural Analysis of Reproduction. Boston: Beacon Press.



WEEK 11: Gendered violence


Required readings:


Merry, Sally Engle. 2008. Chapter 1 “Introduction.” In Gender violence: A cultural perspective. Wiley.


Theidon, Kimberly. 2016. “A greater measure of justice: Gender, violence, and reparations.” In L. M. Silverstein & E. Lewin, eds. Mapping Feminist Anthropology in the Twenty-First Century. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, Pp 191-210.



WEEK 12: Representation


Required readings:


Haraway, Donna. 1988. "Situated Knowledges: The science question in feminism and the privilege of partial perspective."  Feminist Studies 14 (3):575-599.Women writing culture


Behar, Ruth. “Introduction: out of exile.” Women writing culture. Ruth Behar and Deborah A. Gordon (eds). University of California Press: Berkeley. Pp 1--29


Suggested readings:


Knott, Sarah. 2019. Chapter 1 “Mothering by numbers.” Mother is a verb. Sarah Crichton Books: New York.


Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. understand the breadth and significances of the ethnographic record pertaining to gender and sexuality.
  • LO2. use ethnographic observations to appraise and critique theories of gender and sexuality.
  • LO3. critically engage with the implications of cultural difference in the study of gender and sexuality.
  • LO4. understand anthropological writings on sexuality and gender in the context of how these have been debated in the discipline.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

This is the first time this unit has been offered by this instructor


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

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