Beverly Stoeltje, Ph.D.

Gender Rituals: Beauty Pageants, Rodeo, and Feminism

Ghanaian Queen Mothers at a Durbar

Throughout my career, women and gender issues have captured my interest. As a native Texan who grew up on a ranch, I began my anthropological career researching, among other rodeo-related topics, cowgirls and festival queens.  Throughout my career I have concentrated on various representations of women in performance such as the rodeo but have also extended my research into gender rituals.  

Particularly reflective of globalization and efforts to redefine women's position in society are beauty pageants, ritual events around the world in which women are placed on display for society's evaluations. While considered trivial by some and vulgar by others, these events attract a huge following, are popularized by the media, and indicate to us just how concepts of gender are traveling around the globe and what strategies are employed to harness the powers of young women.

In Beauty Queens on the Global Stage, which I co-edited with Colleen Ballerino Cohen and Richard Wilk, I authored an article on the queen of the Rattlesnake Roundup in Sweetwater, Texas.   My work on gender is also evident in my work on ritual and public culture, rodeo and cultural performance and my work in Ghana on Asante Queen Mothers and the Anthropology of Law.


Selected Publications:

2002 Women, Language and Law in Africa II: Gender and Relations of Power, Africa Today, vol. 49: (2). vii-xiv.

2000 Gender Ideologies and Discursive Practices in Asante. Political and Legal Anthropology Review.  Vol. 23: (2).  77-88.

1997 Asante Queenmothers: A Study in Female Authority.  In  Queens, Queen  Mothers, Priestesses, and Power.  Flora  Kaplan, ed. New York: New York Academy of Science. vol. 810.  41-71. (transferred to Johns Hopkins University Press.)

1997 Narrative and Negotiation: A Woman's Case in the  Queen Mother's Court in Ghana. Werner Zips and E. Adriaan B. van Rouveroy van Nieuwaal, eds. In Sovereignty, Legitimacy and Power in West African Societies. Hamburg: Lit Verlag.172-190.

1995 The Snake Charmer Queen: Ritual, Competition, and Signification in American Festival, in Beauty Queens on the Global Stage.  Eds. C. Cohen, R. Wilk, B. Stoeltje.  New York: Routledge.  13-30. 

1995 Beauty Queens on the Global Stage: Gender, Contests and Power.  (co-edited with Colleen Ballerino Cohen and Richard Wilk) New York:Routledge.

1993 Power and the Ritual Genres: American Rodeo. Western Folklore 52:135-156.

1989 Rodeo from Custom to Ritual.  Western Folklore 48: 244-290.

1988 Gender Representations in Performance: The Cowgirl and the Hostess.  Journal of Folklore Research 25: (3).219-241.   

1988 Introduction:  Feminist Revisions.  Journal of Folklore Research 25: (3).141-154.

1986 Women in Rodeo:  Private Motivations and Community Representations. Kentucky Folklore Record  32: (1 & 2). 42-50. (Changed to Southern Folklore Quarterly.)

1975 A Helpmate for Man Indeed: The Image of the Frontier Woman, Journal  of American Folklore 88:  25-41.