Anthropology, Department of



Brett Kennedy

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Published in Nebraska Anthropologist Vol. 20 (2005). Copyright © Brett Kennedy; published by The University of Nebraska-Lincoln AnthroGroup.


In 1983, David B. Adams published "Why are there so few Women Warriors? " This important paper brought to light the traditional coriflict between marriage and war. Going against the classical "men are more aggressive" theory, Adams presented the conflict of interest a wife might experience in a patrilocal, exogamous society that would necessitate her removal from the warfare complex. However, even in those societies that there is no coriflict of interest, the woman warrior is almost unheard of Furthermore, even within those societies that allow women to participate in war, they are always the rarest exception. To answer this problem I will attempt to construct a prehistory of war, founded on recent works by a number of anthropologists, such as Barbara Smuts, Richard Wrangham, and psychologist Anne Campbell. These researchers have shed new light on the development of pair bonding, the pre-human history of warfare, and gender differences in aggressive behavior, respectively. Using these perspectives, and those of other recent research, this paper will revisit Adam's model for women's exclusion from warfare. By reconsidering Adam's model, it attempts to apply the concepts to modern warfare, and women's increasing participation in the world's state militaries.

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