Book Reviews -- Culture and Human Sexuality: A Reader Edited by David N. Suggs and Andrew W. Miracle

Article excerpt

For this volume, Suggs and Miracle have selected a number of pieces, all originally appearing elsewhere, to illustrate various aspects of the anthropology of human sexuality. Their goal in doing so was to elucidate the complex relationship between culture and sexuality. The book is arranged into sections, loosely grouped under headings including gender, the life-course, family, incest, sexual orientation, and the sacred. Preceding each section is a brief introduction by the editors outlining the common themes running through the pieces that follow.

The selected works themselves vary widely, and include both purely descriptive as well as theoretical pieces. The dates of original publication vary as well. Representative works include: a critique of the sociobiological approach to human sexual behavior by Fausto-Sterling (originally published in 1986); a chapter by Margaret Mead on gender roles among the Tchambuli (1963); an anthropological analysis of male strip shows in America by Margolis and Arnold (1992); a description of premarital sex among residents of the Trobiand Islands by Malinowski (1957); a chapter by Blackwood on theoretical considerations in the anthropological study of homosexuality and lesbianism (1986); and, a chapter by Brown on the use of the penis pin by natives of Borneo (1990).

While edited works have the advantage of bringing together diverse viewpoints and content areas, they also are vulnerable to a number of weaknesses, some of which may be seen in the present volume. …