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Irregular Connections

A History of Anthropology and Sexuality

Andrew P. Lyons

Publication Year: 2004

Irregular Connections traces the anthropological study of sex from the eighteenth century to the present, focusing primarily on social and cultural anthropology and the work done by researchers in North America and Great Britain. Andrew P. and Harriet D. Lyons argue that the sexuality of those whom anthropologists studied has been conscripted into Western discourses about sex, including debates about prostitution, homosexuality, divorce, premarital relations, and hierarchies of gender, class, and race.
 
Because sex is the most private of activities and often carries a high emotional charge, it is peculiarly difficult to investigate. At times, such as the late 1920s and the last decade of the twentieth century, sexuality has been a central concern of anthropologists and focal in their theoretical formulations. At other times the study of sexuality has been marginalized. The anthropology of sex has sometimes been one of the main faces that anthropology presented to the public, often causing resentment within the discipline.
 
Irregular Connections discusses several individuals who have played a significant role in the anthropological study of sexuality, including Sir Richard Burton, Havelock Ellis, Edward Westermarck, Bronislaw Malinowski, Margaret Mead, George Devereux, Robert Levy, Gilbert Herdt, Stephen O. Murray, and Esther Newton. Synthesizing a wealth of information from different anthropological traditions, the authors offer a seamless history of the anthropology of sex as it has been practiced and conceptualized in North America and Great Britain.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Series: Critical Studies in the History of Anthropology

Cover

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Frontmatter

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Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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List of Illustrations

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p. x

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

We would like to acknowledge the help of three research assistants who helped us in the early stages of the project: Dr. Mary Fair Deschene, Dr. Fabian Dapila, and our former colleague, the late Dr. Judith Abwunza. In the latter stages of the project, Mr. Stephan Dobson acted as an editorial assistant...

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Series Editors' Introduction

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pp. xiii-xiv

Although the variety of human sexuality has been a rich topic in Anglo-American public culture, it has received surprisingly little anthropological attention. This lacuna may be attributable to the aura of the exotic or scandalous that clings to the topic within a discipline that has long aspired to the status of "science." Andrew...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-19

Many people still believe that anthropology is largely about sex. There is a persistent image of the anthropologist as a voyeur. Moreover, information about "primitives" is often used to justify or deplore Western sexual desire and practice. This is a recurring theme in writings of various kinds. It can be found, to...

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1. Three Images of Primitive Sexuality and the Definition of Species

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pp. 20-50

Three persistent images of primitive sexuality emerged in the 18th century. Each of them had political as well as scientific resonances. Each of them was linked to the fact of miscegenation through processes of affirmation or denial. The politics of miscegenation (and/or interracial copulation) appear to be linked to controversies...

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2. Sex and the Refuge for Destitute Truth

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pp. 51-72

The strange career of Sir Richard Burton, to which we shall devote some attention, must surely caution us about any easy generalizations concerning Victorian society. Sexuality and gender were topics of debate and contestation throughout the period. However, it would be unwise to deny that those debates reveal...

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3. Matriarchy, Marriage by Capture, and Other Fantasies

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pp. 73-99

Apart from Charles Staniland Wake, whose book The Development of Marriage and Kinship achieved instant obscurity on publication and only received any real regard after its republication in 1967, no major evolutionary theorist regularly participated in the meetings of Dr. James Hunt's Anthropological Society of London...

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4. The Reconstruction of "Primitive Sexuality" at the Fin de Si├Ęcle

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pp. 100-130

The period we are now to examine is one in which anthropology is institutionalized in the United States (the American Anthropological Association is founded) and is taught in universities for the first time in the United States and Great Britain, ethnography in the true sense is first written, Australian kinship...

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5. "Old Africa Hands"

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pp. 131-154

Australia may have been seen as the zero point of cultural evolution, but Africa did not cease to be a locus for the stigmata of alterity. The British encounter with Africa was characterized by a number of prevailing stereotypes of "African" sexuality and such linked matters as sensual, even feral, ritual dances and the...

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6. Malinowski as "Reluctant Sexologist"

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pp. 155-184

In The Sexual Life of Savages in Northwestern Melanesia (1929) Bronislaw Malinowski derides 19th-century sensationalism concerning primitive sexuality and emphasizes the stable marital relations that succeed youthful promiscuity among Trobrianders.1 His work appealed greatly to Havelock Ellis and Bertrand Russell, who...

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7. Margaret Mead, the Future of Language, and Lost Opportunities

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pp. 185-215

The regime of professional authorities on sexuality, as Foucault understood it, had the effect of constructing sexuality so that incidents that might otherwise be defined as isolated fantasies, sensations, or behaviors were deployed to fit those who experienced them into reified categories. These included the heterosexual...

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8. The "Silence"

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pp. 216-276

At the beginning of a discussion of sexuality in Tikopia that, all told, occupies nearly a quarter of a lengthy book, Sir Raymond Firth commented on the history and the prospects for the anthropological study of sexuality. His remarks about the paucity of monographs until the late 1920s must be taken in context. He...

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9. Sex in Contemporary Anthropology

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pp. 277-323

Since the 1970s sexuality has reemerged as a focus of anthropological theorizing, leading to the widespread perception that anthropology has, in fact, "rediscovered sex." In anthropology, as in the wider intellectual culture, the notion of "sex," along with the related category "gender," has been subject to scrutiny and redefinition...

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Conclusions and Unfinished Business

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pp. 324-332

In the introduction to this book we remarked that a mere absence of knowledge did not suffice to prevent scholars and "experts" in Western countries from forming strong opinions about non-Western forms of sexuality. Sex as an issue was always laden with a lot of baggage. Our extensive review of literature covering more than...

Notes

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pp. 333-348

References Cited

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pp. 349-384

Index

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pp. 385-419


E-ISBN-13: 9780803204379
E-ISBN-10: 080320437X

Page Count: 420
Illustrations: Illus.
Publication Year: 2004

Series Title: Critical Studies in the History of Anthropology
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OCLC Number: 56620819
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