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Negotiating Gender and Authority in Northern Syria

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Insights from Pruitt's dual-concern model are applied to explore the negotiation of authority across cultures through gender-specific behavior within the intercultural setting of an American archaeological excavation in northern Syria. The annually recurring temporary communities created by archaeological excavations in the Middle East offer an intriguing site for the analysis of the negotiation of social authority in the workplace. American volunteers, both male and female, participate in archaeological excavations as the immediate supervisors of the local Syrian work crew. These archaeological ``tourists'' generally lack any familiarity with the local language and culture and must rely on their own strategies for managing relations with the Arab work crews. This article examines the daily interactions between the volunteers and workers, focusing specifically on the role of gender in these interactions. Pruitt's model helps to explain why women are generally more successful than men as social actors within this worksite. The rigorous use of the word ``negotiate'' helps in understanding these social interactions more clearly.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Anthropology, Graduate School, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas 78712, USA (E-mail:


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