First Advisor

Michele R. Gamburd

Date of Publication

Fall 11-30-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies (MAIS)


Interdisciplinary Studies




Sex -- Anthropological aspects, Sex -- Economic aspects, Sex -- Social aspects, Queer theory



Physical Description

1 online resource (iv, 128 pages)


This interdisciplinary thesis examines the concept of sexuality through lenses provided by economic history, anthropology, and queer theory. A close reading reveals historical parallels from the late 1800s between concepts of a desiring, utility-maximizing economic subject on the one hand, and a desiring, carnally decisive sexological subject on the other. Social constructionists have persuasively argued that social and economic elites deploy the discourse of sexuality as a technique of discipline and social control in class- and gender-based struggles. Although prior scholarship discusses how contemporary ideas of sexuality reflect this origin, many anthropologists and queer theorists continue to use "sexuality" uncritically when crafting local, material accounts of sex, pleasure, affection, intimacy, and human agency. In this thesis, I show that other economic, political, and intellectual pathways emerge when sexuality is deliberately dis-ordered. I argued that contemporary research aspires to formulate new ideas about bodies and pleasures. It fails to do so adequately when relying on sexuality as a master narrative.


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