The Anthropology of Homosexualities

ANTH 418
Dr. Terry Hunt
Fall Semester, 1999, University of Hawai`i, Manoa
Wednesdays, 5:00-7:30 PM

This course is a survey of anthropological perspectives on homosexualities.  Same-sex relationships are widespread--indeed probably universal among human societies--yet the subject remains poorly researched and under theorized in anthropology, and the social sciences in general.   Recent research and publication, however, are bringing this important topic "out of the closet."

We will examine gay and lesbian studies largely from the holistic, cross-cultural approaches of anthropology.   Anthropological studies of lesbian and gay lives in varied cultural contexts offer great promise in understanding this dimension of human variability.  Indeed, gay anthropology holds significant  implications for unraveling the longstanding nature/nurture debate of the social sciences. And understanding homosexuality  has important consequences for "hot" contemporary civil rights issues, such as laws for non-discrimination and same-sex marriage.

The course is organized as a seminar.  Each week we will read selected works and discuss topics including, but not limited to the following:  history of research on the origins of (homo)sexuality; the recent work in genetics on gay inheritance; ethnographies of gay (sub)culture in social, cultural, and historical contexts;  the nature of homophobia and political activism; social tolerance/enlightenment;  constructing gay identities;  and emerging attitudes in contemporary culture.

Dr. Hunt is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and a member of the Board of Governors for the Human Rights Campaign.