Non-Normative Sexualities in Historical and Global Perspective


Non-normative sexualities are evermore present in a wide range of sociocultural contexts across the globe. At a time when gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender identities have emerged among diverse local populations—and foreign interventions aimed at indigenous queer communities have intensified—it is increasingly important to understand what these identities mean to, and what is at stake for, sexual minorities in different parts of the world. How are non-normative genders and sexualities constructed, performed, negotiated, and resisted in non-North American contexts, and what kinds of queer identities and communities have emerged as a result of local and global transformations, past and present? How have anthropologists historically studied and explained indigenous sexualities, and how have these representations changed over time? What kinds of developments are underway in other parts of the world due to the confluence of technological advancements, globalization, world politics, and local queer cultures? What novel interventions, collaborations, and conflicts have resulted among queer communities on account of local and foreign interpositions? This course is an introduction to non-normative sexualities in diverse and shifting cultural contexts across the world, particularly in countries such as Brazil, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Uganda, and South Africa. By focusing on ethnographic and queer approaches to the study of sexuality, we will survey the history of the anthropological study of sexuality and examine how contemporary sexualities are situated among historical, local, and global processes. Hence, one of the aims of the course is to apprehend sexuality not only as lived experience but also as a cultural and historical phenomenon. The course engages debates about locality and globalization by examining queer sexualities in light of culture contact, social change and development, border crossings, and shifting economic and political climates. A key component of the course is the way in which non-heteronormativity maps onto gender, race, nationality, and other cultural formations. Finally, students will gain knowledge of sexual and gender diversity and change through a qualitative research project on a queer subculture of their choice. Through these individual projects, students will learn how to design research studies, conduct fieldwork and interviews, perform discourse analysis, and other research skills.