The 86th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2017)

Undisciplining Desire: Bisexual and Queer Approaches to Science


Anthropology, University of Texas at Austin

April 21, 2017 3:45, Riverview 1 Add to calendar

Both humans and nonhumans are shaped by complex interactions of biological and social forces, but the study of such forces has long been divided in the academy, where the life sciences study nature, while the humanities study culture. Feminist and queer critiques of science have powerfully demonstrated that these disciplinary divisions have been shaped by implicit assumptions of binary sex in the western academy, where the male/female divide underlies the separation of science from the humanities, nature from culture, and mind from body. Because biological anthropology is located at the interstices of these ostensibly opposing areas of study, there are opportunities for our field to develop more interdisciplinary, biosocial forms of inquiry. Indeed, there has been a long history of evaluating the connections between nature and culture in biological anthropology, but often, these approaches have reproduced hierarchies of knowledge, privileging biological processes and framing culture as an outcome of nature. Such narratives have been intensively shaped by heterosexual, male perspectives, so moving beyond the nature/culture divide depends in part upon diversifying our field. In this presentation, we argue that bisexual and queer perspectives provide new ways of knowing the world that do not take binaries as a given. Focusing on recent developments in bioarchaeology and paleogenomics, we present interdisciplinary case studies that represent vital sites of transformation, where science is being remodeled via bisexual and queer perspectives. In doing so, we will highlight the impact of queer desires in producing new kinds of biosocial knowledge in biological anthropology.