The Anthropology of Sex

The Anthropology of Sex

The Anthropology of Sex

The Anthropology of Sex

Synopsis

Sex scholarship has a long history in anthropology, from the studies of voyeuristic Victorian gentlemen ethnographers, to more recent analyses of gay sex, transsexualism, and the newly visible forms of contemporary sexuality in the West. The Anthropology of Sex draws on the comparative field research of anthropologists to examine the relationship between sex as identity, practice and experience. Sexual cultures vary enormously and, while often the topic of tabloid titillation, they are more rarely subjected to strict cultural analysis. The Anthropology of Sex is the first work to critically synthesize over a century of comparative expertise, knowledge and understanding of diverse sexual forms. The book: -Explores sexuality from diversity to perversity and asks how diverse sexual practices are linked. -Probes the cultural and comparative context of contemporary sexual practice and belief. -Examines the shaping of sex by global and globalizing forces. The Anthropology of Sex will be key reading for undergraduate and postgraduate courses in anthropology and related disciplines.

Excerpt

This book is about the experiences, feelings and meanings of sex within and across different cultures. Although sex is a biological urge, it is rarely experienced in the same way by people everywhere; it is differently practised and felt depending on the social and cultural settings in which it occurs. In order to stress this experiential aspect of sexual practice, we focus in particular on what people themselves say and do about sex and on how they understand and interpret it. At the same time we seek to remain sensitive to the wider global forces that increasingly shape, constrain and facilitate the exchange of sexual belief and practice and which have generated worldwide a greater awareness of sexual rights and possibilities.

Given its rich archive of sexual practices from around the globe, anthropology is well placed to provide such an account. However, our goal is not to provide a compendium or catalogue of sexual variety and difference. Rather, we have tried to sketch the general issues in the social study of sex and to locate ethnographic case studies within broader theoretical debates, at the same time as providing ethnographic context for issues often discussed only in the abstract. Anthropology is distinguished by its emphasis on the voices and experiences of those it studies and even if we sometimes stray beyond this to include other approaches, our central focus remains what ethnography can contribute to understanding the role of sex in different contexts from politics to play, commerce to consumption, and music to migration.

There are many ways in which we might have approached the writing of this book, almost as many ways as there are of engaging in the subject of its focus, and although we are unlikely to satisfy everyone, we do hope to stimulate some. We might have taken a chronological approach, reviewing how the study of sex developed in the discipline, or organized the material by region or by type of sexual practice. We have, however, adopted a thematic approach, which we hope has enabled us not only to highlight the many situations in which sex has a major role to play but also to stress the value of comparison, and the potential insights to be generated by exploring practices in one context (whether defined geographically, historically, politically, etc.) alongside those in another. We should also declare at the outset that, despite the apparent confidence of our title, this book does not claim to be the anthropology of sex. Given the diversity of sexual practice and interpretation, as well as the diversity of anthropology itself, it would be foolhardy of us to claim to be offering the definitive account. We hope, therefore, that . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.