Gender, Sexuality, and Body Politics

The study of gender and sexuality represents one of anthropology's most innovative areas of contemporary research. This field of study addresses a wide range of phenomena of interest to anthropologists as well as scholars in a number of related disciplines: ideologies and intersectionalities of gender and sexuality, class, and race; patterns of gender and sexual diversity (including heterosexuality, heteronormativity, same-sex relations, and transgender practices); representations of the body and various kinds of embodied experience; the politics of embodiment, passion, and desire; the evolution and bio-cultural entailments of human reproduction; and the mating strategies and dominance hierarchies of various species of non-human primates, to name just a few. The anthropological study of gender, sexuality, and body politics foregrounds cultural particularity and history in the investigation (whether field or laboratory based). Scholarly work on these and related topics engages diverse theoretical perspectives -- many of them deeply interdisciplinary -- ranging from those grounded in symbolic analysis, laboratory study, ecological/evolutionary theory, and/or political economy, to those drawing on psychoanalysis, feminist and queer theories, postmodernism, subaltern studies, and the critique of science. Our program is dedicated to research that is firmly grounded in clinical study, ethnographic and observational fieldwork, or extensive archival/historical work; we also encourage students working with human populations to consider both large- and small-scale societies as well as the processes of modernity and globalization in which communities throughout the world are embedded.

Various aspects of gender, sexuality, and body politics figure prominently in the research and teaching interests of many of the anthropology faculty. The cultural anthropologist at Emory who is currently most directly involved in these areas of teaching and research is Michael Peletz (gender ideologies, gender and sexual diversity, body politics), though Peter Brown, Bruce KnauftKristin Phillips, Liv Nilsson Stutz, Debra Vidali, and other cultural anthropologists are also involved in teaching and/or research on topics in these areas. The biological anthropologist at Emory who is most directly involved in these realms of teaching and research at present is Carol Worthman (human reproduction, life history), while other biological anthropologists are also involved in work on these or closely related topics.

For many faculty and students, these interests provide vital connections between the Department of Anthropology and other departments and programs on Emory's campus, including the Department of History; the Department of Religion; the Department of Women's, Gender and Sexual Studies; the Department of Film Studies and Media; the Institute of Liberal Arts; the Law School; the Program in Linguistics; the School of Public Health; and various areas studies programs such as those focusing on Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean.

Some graduate students who are interested in these areas of research may want to consider obtaining a Certificate in Women’s Studies from the Women’s Studies Department, in addition to a Ph.D. in anthropology.

Faculty in other departments and programs include -- in addition to the many relevant faculty in the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies -- Martha Fineman (Law School), Joyce Flueckiger (Religion), Ruby Lal (Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies) and Kim Wallen (Psychology).