On Leave - Calendar Year 2017

George Paul Meiu is assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology and the Department of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. He holds a PhD and an MA in anthropology from the University of Chicago and a BA in anthropology from Concordia University in Montreal.

Meiu’s research focuses on sexuality, gender, race, ethnicity, and kinship as central domains for understanding belonging and political economy in postcolonial East Africa. Discourses and practices associated with intimate domains of life tell important stories about the global economic and political order and allow us to capture what is new about the historical present. Building on this premise, Meiu asks: What do forms of intimacy and relatedness in African contexts tell us about today’s world at large? How do African intimacies prefigure globally emergent kinds of sovereignty, value, and subjectivity? And how can we employ ethnography to generate social and political critiques of sexual, racial and ethnic oppression?

In his book, Ethno-erotic Economies: Sexuality, Money, and Belonging in Kenya (forthcoming at the University of Chicago Press), Meiu explores how the tourist commodification of ethnic sexuality shapes collective identity and relations of age, gender, and kinship in Kenya. Combining ethnographic and historical methods, he investigates how young Samburu men brand their ethnic identity through colonial images of the "primitive," sexual warrior, in order to initiate intimate relationships with European women, acquire wealth, and build futures. He also explores the multifaceted outcomes of ethnic and sexual commodification with a focus on ritual, politics, and everyday life in Samburu. His work appeared in the American Ethnologist, Ethnos, Anthropology Today, the Canadian Journal of African Studies, and in edited volumes on tourism and sexuality.