Anthropology Faculty

Deborah Elliston

Assistant Professor of Anthropology
PhD, New York University, 1997
Science 1, Room 114A

Research interests

Deborah Elliston is a sociocultural anthropologist pursuing questions of gender, culture, sex and power. Her areas of specialization include critical engagements with nationalism, colonialism and postcoloniality, with "race" and racialization processes, and with modernity, sex and desire. Additional interests include "Third World"/postcolonial feminist theories and politics, feminist and queer sexuality studies, and formations of the modern subject. Specializing in the societies of Polynesia/Oceania, her field research projects have focused on the Society Islands of French Polynesia, an "overseas possession" of France more commonly known as Tahiti and its Islands. Her current research project there engages questions of sexuality, gender, desire and labor as well as the anthropology of fashion through fieldwork with raerae – male-bodied, femininity-performing, transgender sex workers.

Selected Publications

Sites of Struggle: The Politics of Difference in Polynesian Nationalism & Beyond. Book manuscript in final preparation.

In Press. Queer History and Its Discontents at Tahiti: The Contested Politics of Modernity and Sexual Subjectivity. In Gender on the Edge: Transgender, Gay, and Other Pacific Islanders. Niko Besnier and Kalissa Alexeyeff, eds. (Chapter 2.) Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press.

2012. Gendered Modernities and Traditions: Masculinity and Nationalism in the Society Islands. In Young Men in Uncertain Times. Vered Amit and Noel Dyck, eds. Pp. 133-163. New York: Berghahn Books.

2005. Critical Reflexivity & Sexuality Studies in Anthropology. Reviews in Anthropology 34(1):21-47.

2005. "Erotic Anthropology: 'Ritualized Homosexuality' in Melanesia and Beyond." In Same-Sex Cultures and Sexualities: An Anthropological Reader. Jennifer Robertson, ed. Pp. 91-115. London: Blackwell Publishers.

2004. A Passion for the Nation: Masculinity, Modernity, and Nationalist Struggle. American Ethnologist 31(4):606-630.

2002. Anthropology's Queer Future: Feminist Lessons from Tahiti. In Out in Theory: The Emergence of Lesbian and Gay Anthropology. Ellen Lewin and William Leap, eds. Pp. 287-315. Champaign: University of Illinois Press. (Anthology was awarded the 2004 Ruth Benedict Prize.)

2000. Geographies of Gender & Politics: The Place of Difference in Polynesian Nationalism. Cultural Anthropology 15(2):171-216.

1999. Negotiating Transnational Sexual Economies: Female Mahu and Same-Sex Sexuality in 'Tahiti and Its Islands.' In Female Desires: Same-Sex Relations and Transgender Practices Across Cultures. Evelyn Blackwood and Saskia Wieringa, eds. Pp. 230-250. New York: Columbia University Press. (Anthology was awarded the 2000 Ruth Benedict Prize.)

1997. The Not So Pacific: Pacific Islander Films at the 1996 Margaret Mead Film & Video Festival, New York. Pacific Studies 20(1):150-161.

1995. Erotic Anthropology: "Ritualized Homosexuality" in Melanesia and Beyond. American Ethnologist 22(4):848-867. Reprinted in Across the Boundaries of Belief: Contemporary Issues in the Anthropology of Religion, edited by Morton Klass and Maxine Weisgrau, pp. 133-158 (Boulder: Westview Press, 1999).

Last Updated: 8/2/16