ANTHRO 2614 Sexuality and Political Economy

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2016

Professor: George Paul Meiu

This seminar explores the complex links between sexuality, capitalism and power. Sexuality has

long represented a central domain for the creation and contestation of subjects and sovereignties,

labor and capital, relatedness and belonging, desire and development, security and violence. With

the publication of Michel Foucault’s The History of Sexuality (1976), the role of modern forms of

power that work to discipline subjects and regulate populations has become central to how scholars

conceptualize sexuality. By comparison, however, the relation between sexuality, the capitalist

economy, and the myriad forms of postcolonial sovereignties has only recently become the topic of

rigorous analysis. In this seminar, we revisit classic theories by Freud, Foucault, Lacan and Fanon

as well as texts in feminist, queer and postcolonial theory in order to craft a conceptual vocabulary

for understanding emerging configurations of sex and politics in late capitalism. We ask: Under

what historical circumstances does sexuality become a marker of inclusion, exclusion or

exceptionalism in relation to race, ethnicity, culture, and state politics? What are the relations

between commodities, discourses of sexuality, and the erotic practices of concrete historical actors?

And what do we learn about globalization when we think of sexuality as a central domain of

economic production, social reproduction, and political belonging?