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ERIC Number: EJ835819
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 22
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 65
ISSN: ISSN-0161-6463
Visualizing Gender Variability in Plains Indian Pictographic Art
Carocci, Max
American Indian Culture and Research Journal, v33 n1 p1-22 2009
This article analyzes the few published references to gender variation among Plains Indians in order to contribute to a growing corpus of literature concerned with building a more complete picture of the social and cultural lives of individuals accustomed to these practices. In recent years these people have been known among Native Americans under the collective term "two-spirit." Although "two-spirit" is a recent introduction that may not entirely match indigenous perceptions of the individual characters described here, it is nonetheless an umbrella term that, for a lack of better terms, captures a variety of permutations of sex and gender beyond man and woman. This article specifically talks about gender and sex following the generally accepted notion that sex refers to the biological differences between bodies, and that gender refers to the series of culturally determined ideas assigned to sex differences. The argument championed by this article is that the human figures produced by Plains Indians are visually articulated on culturally specific notions of sex and gender that make full use of the connotative aspects of a broadly shared pictographic lexicon. Although references to sexuality are explicit in the English texts that accompany some of the images, the article refrains from suggesting any sexual inclination of the individuals depicted for two reasons: with the information at hand it is impossible to establish the subjects' sexuality, and any preoccupation with their sexual proclivities is largely marginal to the evaluation of the pictorial grammar. As a consequence, this analysis concentrates on the images and references that mention males in women's clothing, individuals with both primary sex characteristics, and figures whose gender is indefinite because visual elements associated with sex or gender that mark or, equally, are absent from the body can be more easily identifiable than individuals' erotic desires. (Contains 9 figures and 9 notes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A