“I went to bed with my own kind once”: The erasure of desire in the name of identity

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14 Scopus citations


Yet, despite the influence of Foucault, the troubling nature of desire-beyond-sexual identity has received relatively little attention. Since the early 1990s, many anthropologists have indeed pointed out that Western sexual identities and identity labels cannot make sense of—and indeed, are complicated by—non-Western sexual practices and desires (e.g. Blackwood, 1995; Donham, 1998;Johnson, 1997; Kulick, 1998). However, there has been little corresponding work which looks explicitly at the erratic connections between erotic desire and identity in US settings outside of immigrant communities (e.g. Manalansan, 1997). Most anthropologists of sexuality in the USA have tended to follow the basic anthropological tenet of using one’s informants’ categories to describe them. Consequently, gay men and lesbians—the usual subjects of discussions of ‘sexuality’ in the anthropological literature—are usually discussed in terms of those categories of identity which are meaningful to informants. As a result, the ontological assumptions which underpin these emic categories are left unexamined (e.g. Lewin, 1993; Shokeid, 1995; Weston, 1991). While attention to study subjects’ self-categorization is clearly central to the anthropological enterprise, critical analyses of those categorizations is also vital to analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Transgender Studies Reader
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781135398842
ISBN (Print)0415947081, 9780415947084
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2006 Susan Stryker and Stephen Whittle.


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