Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Ourlands: Culture, gender, and intention in women's land communities in the United States
by Luis, Keridwen N., Ph.D., Brandeis University, 2009, 329; 3369444
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation investigates relations between gender and culture in the context of women's intentional communities: residential communities composed entirely of women. Women's intentional communities provide a rich field for discussing issues of gender, culture, and the deliberate production of cultural difference. Using interview data and participant observation at several field sites, I explore these issues and focus on four main theoretical questions: (1) The cultures of women's lands are to an important degree consciously created, discussed, and changed by land-women. The production of cultural difference is deliberate and, moreover, there is constant meta-discussion and self-awareness about that production by my informants. Ideas about the production of culture within anthropology still often focus on culture as unconscious or outside the scope of individual daily activities; yet here I focus on how individual women strategize to produce cultural difference. (2) Women's lands are not isolated bubbles of culture, nor are they a network of cultures which function without respect to the matrix cultures in which they are enmeshed. There is cultural exchange between the matrix cultures of the United States and women's lands. (3) Because of the greater "weight" of the matrix culture, there are ways in which it influences the cultures of women's-lands that go largely (although not entirely) undiscussed. These invisible or doxic pressures are among the hardest to resist and change within women's-land cultures, and sometimes represent ideas either adopted or not fully questioned by women's-land cultures. (4) Culture and gender are intertwined, in both matrix United States cultures and within women's-land cultures, and much of the cultural difference between these stems from different gender structures. Gender and gender relations are different within a single-sex community, and occur in ways that are not possible within the larger matrix of the United States. Furthermore, although some gender ideas from the matrix culture still persist, large parts of the doxa of femaleness and femininity are challenged by the fact that on women's land, women are the norm and the unmarked category.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Lamb, Sarah
Commitee: Cadge, Wendy, McIntosh, Janet
School: Brandeis University
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- Massachusetts
Source: DAI-A 70/08, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Cultural anthropology, Womens studies, Organizational behavior, LGBTQ studies
Keywords: Anthropology of the body, Consciously created culture, Cultural networks, Culture, Gender, Intentional communities, Lesbian separatism, Women
Publication Number: 3369444
ISBN: 978-1-109-31553-0
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