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Ethnopornography: Sexuality, Colonialism, and Archival Knowledge

edited by Pete Sigal, Zeb Tortorici and Neil L. Whitehead

Duke University Press, 2020


Cloth: 978-1-4780-0315-1

Paper: 978-1-4780-0384-7

eISBN: 978-1-4780-0442-4

OA eISBN: 978-1-4780-9007-6

About the Book
This volume's contributors explore the links among sexuality, ethnography, race, and colonial rule through an examination of ethnopornography—the eroticized observation of the Other for supposedly scientific or academic purposes. With topics that span the sixteenth century to the present in Latin America, the United States, Australia, the Middle East, and West Africa, the contributors show how ethnopornography is fundamental to the creation of race and colonialism as well as archival and ethnographic knowledge. Among other topics, they analyze eighteenth-century European travelogues, photography and the sexualization of African and African American women, representations of sodomy throughout the Ottoman empire, racialized representations in a Brazilian gay pornographic magazine, colonial desire in the 2007 pornographic film Gaytanamo, the relationship between sexual desire and ethnographic fieldwork in Africa and Australia, and Franciscan friars' voyeuristic accounts of indigenous people's “sinful” activities. Outlining how in the ethnopornographic encounter the reader or viewer imagines direct contact with the Other from a distance, the contributors trace ethnopornography's role in creating racial categories and its grounding in the relationship between colonialism and the erotic gaze. In so doing, they theorize ethnography as a form of pornography that is both motivated by the desire to render knowable the Other and invested with institutional power.

Contributors. Joseph A. Boone, Pernille Ipsen, Sidra Lawrence, Beatrix McBride, Mireille Miller-Young, Bryan Pitts, Helen Pringle, Pete Sigal, Zeb Tortorici, Neil L. Whitehead
About the Author
Pete Sigal is Professor of History and Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies at Duke University.

Zeb Tortorici is Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Literatures at New York University.

Neil L. Whitehead (1956–2012) was Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
“Making powerful arguments and bold methodological claims, this ambitious collection confronts the genealogies of ethnopornographic circulations while offering exemplary readings of ethnopornographic objects and optics. A significant intervention in anthropology, history, postcolonial studies, feminist theory, critical theory, and beyond.”

-- Antoinette Burton, author of Africa in the Indian Imagination: Race and the Politics of Postcolonial Citation

“In its ambitious analysis of ethnopornography's histories and circulations, this volume challenges readers to consider ethnopornography's centrality to forms of knowledge itself. This bold collection makes important contributions to fields across the humanities, including literary studies, history, black studies, ethnic studies, visual culture studies, gender studies, and anthropology. It also compels readers to think about the politics and ethics of our collective desires to see and to know and about how those desires have come to form the basis of disciplinary knowledge.”

-- Jennifer C. Nash, author of Black Feminism Reimagined: After Intersectionality

"Brilliantly, the editors invite us to consider ethnography as a form of pornography invested with institutional power."

-- A. Ponce de Leon Choice

"This fascinating and wide-ranging collection has the potential to influence the academic study of sexuality and push it toward a more courageous and self-reflexive future. Many of the scholars involved serve as models for this kind of work."

-- Nicole von Germeten Hispanic American Historical Review

"The editors' ability to position this collection within broader discussions of gender and sexuality is a significant strength of this work. Although the editors and authors are discussing material that is rich in theory it is written in such a way that the content is accessible to a reader unfamiliar with the topic. . . . This work would be perfect for a graduate seminar because of its diverse narratives that focus on similar themes that would allow emerging scholars to self-reflect on their own research. The editors put together an engaging collection of essays that challenges its readers to grapple with the implications of their own scholarly gaze and interrogate the lasting impact of colonial narratives that has historical sexualized the other."

-- Edith Ritt-Coulter International Social Science Review

Anthropological aspects, Sex, Ethnology, Race, Social History, Gender Studies, Cultural & Social, Anthropology, Social Science, History
Open Access Information

License: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0