Saturday, April 13, 2013

Two-Spirit People in: THIRD GENDER. The Anthropological Analysis of Gender Transgression in Comparative Perspective as Based on the Two-Spirit (the USA and Canada,) the Trans (Poland,) and the Kinnar (India.)

Why I am interested Two-Spirit People? 

The response is very prosaic: it is one of the most interesting phenomena in the culture. I wrote a doctoral dissertation about Two-Spirit and more. 
I hope that after return from my another expedition to indigenous people from America I will be write and tell about it much more; the same as my friends and travellers. 

Today only summary: THIRD GENDER. The Anthropological Analysis of Gender Transgression in Comparative Perspective as Based on the Two-Spirit (the USA and Canada,) the Trans (Poland,) and the Kinnar (India.) / Trzecia płeć. Antropologiczna analiza płci w ujęciu porównawczym na przykładzie two-spirt (Stany Zjednoczone, Kanada), trans (Polska) i kinnar (Indie). 

The phenomenon defined by anthropologists as third sex/gender is a broad and multifaceted subject of academic study in the humanistic thought. It occurs in many disciplines, particularly in philosophy, anthropology, etnography, sociology, psychology, but also in cognitive science and biology. The aim of the following paper is to make a comparative anthropological analysis of sex/gender transgression in three dissimilar cultural areas – North America (two-spirit), Poland (trans) and India (kinnar). The above analysis encompasses the transgression of subjectivity, identity, physicality and sexuality.

The assignment is fulfilled in the anthropological-philosophical perspective, based on the eclectic hermeneutical-phenomenological method. It involves a way of cognition consisting in expressing reality instead of creating it, which means that a relevant role is played by signs announcing reality rather than this reality as such. As proved, it is the signs and symbols which found the basis for creating a social reality in which third sex/gender finds its place. The paper tracks the expressiveness of reality in order to identify real things in words while the things are also hidden between the words.

Phenomenological observation method as well as hermeneutical art enables to describe and define the phenomena’s main core by means of pre-demonstrating what they are not so as to conclude what they are. It is to be hoped that the above approach protects the present author from hypothesizing on the ground of the external passive observation along with treating a human being as an object of research serving an instrumental scientific manipulation. The following doctoral dissertation attempts to reveal that the societies which possess fewer tensions between masculinity and femininity, social classes, the upper and the lower, purity and impurity, the ones which, both in the symbollic and literal sense, perceive a non-dichotomously formed body better, treat symptoms of third sex less negatively (if not positively) as well as less oppresively treat representatives of third sex/gender.

It is assumed that third sex is a variable category depending on time, place and culture, as well as on the relation of power between men and women. Third sex/gender exists naturally as the so-called human androgyny characterised by intersexualism, but also it constitutes a cultural by-product and is a conventional phenomenon within society’s sphere, a temporary state, e.g. when a person already living in one gender role, by performing transgression, selects the other. Ultimately, it exists as a living social experience, a social phenomenon, as well as individuals’ experience within the sphere of body and mind.

Aims and methods of the process of sex/gender transgression which proceeds on the border of the experience of sex/gender, but simultaneously makes an empty space between what is natural and pure and what is filthy and befouled in culture are described. The following border is possible to cross in the ritual process which may be the transgression rite consisting in a renewed social integration achieved by means of reaching the temporary state of communitas.

The project is divided into four parts. In the first chapter the consequences of the adopted hermeneutical-phenomenological research perspective in relation to the issue of comprehension and presentation of the source materials and the author’s results of her independent research in the field are described. Geographical places where research has been done and a way of collecting information are discussed. The notions and phenomena related to third sex/gender and transgression in all the cultures analyzed are defined. The universal definitions whose application refers to all the cultures discussed herein are created, but also a local terminology is used if a given phenomenon is an attribute only of a selected community and is not found anywhere else. The impossibility of emic and etic transfer and the consequences of the comprehension of the social reality resulting from this fact are demonstrated. The second, third and fourth chapter concern sex/gender transgression in North America, Poland and India respectively. Cultural motifs intermingle in respective chapters if a selected aspect of transgression characterizing third sex/gender is confronted on various grounds. It all makes the contents of the chapters coherent and valuable as a whole.

In Conclusion the analysis of the specificity of sex/gender transgression is summarised by a comparative synthesis of the most significant information related to the assumptions of the paper. Also, the future of the phenomenon of third sex/gender is reflected upon and its possible directions of transgression as well as some likely purposes of further reconstructions of its meanings. 

Autor: Małgorzata Rećko

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