Sexuality, Colonialism, and Archival Knowledge

Book Pages: 280 Illustrations: 25 illustrations Published: December 2019

Anthropology > Ethnohistory, Gender and Sexuality > Queer Theory, History > World History

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


“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


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

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.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix
Introduction: Ethnopornography as Methodology and Critique / Pete Sigal, Zeb Tortorici, and Neil L. Whitehead  1
Part I. Visualizing Race
1. Exotic/Erotic/Ethnopornographic: Black Women, Desire, and Labor in the Photographic Archive / Mireille Miller-Young  41
2. "Hung, Hot, and Shameless in Bed": Blackness, Desire, and Politics in a Brazilian Gay Porn Magazine, 1997–2008 / Bryan Pitts  67
3. The Ghosts of Gaytanamo / Beatrix McBride  97
4. Under White Men's Eyes: Racialized Eroticism, Ethnographic Encounters, and the Maintenance of the Colonial Order / Sidra Lawrence  118
Part II. Ethnopornography as Colonial History
5. Franciscan Voyeurism in Sixteenth-Century New Spain / Pete Sigal  139
6. European Travelogues and Ottoman Sexuality: Sodomitical Crossings Abroad, 1550–1850 / Joseph Allen Boone  169
7. Sexualizing the Other: From Ethnopornography to Interracial Pornography in European Travel Writing about West African Women / Pernille Ipsen  205
8. "Men Like Us": The Invention of Ethnopornography / Helen Pringle  225
Conclusion: Ethnopornography Coda / Neil L. Whitehead  245
Contributors  253
Index  257
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0384-7 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0315-1