gillpolack (gillpolack) wrote,

Women's History Month: Amanda Pillar

Like many women who’ve contributed to Women’s History Month, I’m a scholar and a writer. I’ve been at the University of Melbourne for 9 years, and I like to say it isn’t because I’m a slow learner. I normally don’t say why I’ve been there so long, but it is relevant here.

I’ve spent most of the past decade at uni working towards a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science, where I majored in archaeology, English and physics. While there, I also did an Honours Degree in archaeology and I’m currently in the final year of my Masters in Archaeology. After this, I’ll do my PhD.

So why all the study? Well, I want to be the female version of Indiana Jones, minus the grave robbing. And it’s not an uncommon thing; while most of my archaeology friends at university are male, women are really beginning to move up through the field. Also, conversely, most of the friends I made during my physics degree were women; and the head of the department I deal with most is also female.

Both of my supervisors are women, one of whom may or may not have been told back in the day that she should give up her career to look after her husband’s interests (he is also an archaeologist). Suffice to say, she didn’t. And while I don’t strongly adhere to feminist archaeological principles, I do believe it is necessary that a female perspective is treated with due importance. Although, I would more strongly advocate that we need to study a culture not just from a male’s or female’s stance, but from a person’s stance.

All this study has been also useful in my editing career. KV Taylor and I are currently working with Kaaron Warren, Cat Sparks and Deborah Biancotti on a collection called Ishtar, which surprisingly, is about the Mesopotamian goddess, Ishtar.

And really, for Women’s History Month, what better deity is there to discuss?

Ishtar (or Inanna) was the love goddess who spanned the Mediterranean in various guises and forms. She was linked to, or associated with, the Canaanite Asherah, Phoenician Astarte and with them, Egyptian Hathor, Greek Aphrodite, Roman Venus and many others.

She was the ultimate; sex, war and love.

In mythology, even the creator god was careful about irritating her. Ishtar faced the Underworld -- like some other male gods -- and came back alive. She was easily equal to her male compatriots and often times, their superior.

So while women are climbing through the archaeology ranks, female authors are also providing new aspects on traditional histories or myths using strong women (be they real or mythical), as their inspiration.

Amanda Pillar is a writer and an award-winning editor. Currently, she is the Editor-in-Chief for Morrigan Books, an independent dark fiction press. Amanda is the mother of two Burmese cats and lives in Victoria, Australia. In her free time, she plans on becoming the next Indiana Jones.

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