George Paul Meiu is Professor of Anthropology and Chair of the Institute of Social Anthropology at the University of Basel. He is an Associate of the Department of African and African American Studies and the Hutchins Center at Harvard University, where, until 2022, he was a tenured, full professor. Meiu’s research and teaching focus on sexuality, gender, and kinship; ethnicity, belonging and citizenship; mobility, memory, and materiality; and the political economy of postcolonial East Africa and postsocialist Eastern Europe.
Meiu is author of Ethno-erotic Economies: Sexuality, Money, and Belonging in Kenya (University of Chicago Press, 2017), a book that won the Ruth Benedict Prize and the Nelson Graburn Prize of the American Anthropological Association. Combining ethnographic and historical methods, the book explores how the tourist commodification of ethnic sexuality shapes how postcolonial subjects negotiate belonging and relations of age, gender, and kinship in Kenya.
In his forthcoming book, Queer Objects to the Rescue: Intimacy and Citizenship in Kenya, Meiu explores new ways of thinking about homophobia and rampant violence against queer people by taking as its point of departure objects whose poetic deployment in rumor, political rhetoric, and everyday life constitutes the homosexual body as an imaginary target of repudiation.
Meiu is also coeditor of Ethnicity, Commodity, In/Corporation (Indiana University Press, 2020), a book that examines the growing global entanglements of ethnicity in market dynamics, nationalism, and consumption. He is also author of the Romanian-language monograph Vin feciorii cu turca! Schimbări semiologice în obiceiurile cetei de feciori din Comăna (Arania, 2004), a historical ethnography of a youths’ ritual in southeastern Transylvania, Romania, that has been pivotal to nationalist, communist, and post-socialist political imaginaries.
His work appeared the American Anthropologist, American Ethnologist, Cultural Anthropology, Ethnos, HAU, and Anthropology Today and in edited volumes on tourism, bodies, sexuality, futures, and the history of anthropology.
Meiu holds a BA in anthropology from Concordia University in Montreal and an MA and PhD from the University of Chicago, where he won the Daniel F. Nugent Prize for the best dissertation in historical anthropology.