Current Institutional Affiliation
Professor, Anthropology, University of California / Irvine

Tom Boellstorff is Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine, and Editor-in-Chief of American Anthropologist, the flagship journal of the American Anthropological Association. Professor Boellstorff received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from Stanford University in 2000. His research projects have focused on questions of virtual worlds, sexuality, globalization, nationalism, language, and HIV/AIDS. He is the author of The Gay Archipelago: Sexuality and Nation in Indonesia (Princeton University Press, 2005); A Coincidence of Desires: Anthropology, Queer Studies, Indonesia (Duke University Press, 2007); and Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human (Princeton University Press, 2008). He is the author of publications in many journals including American Anthropologist, American Ethnologist (twice), Cultural Anthropology, Games and Culture, the Journal of Asian Studies, the Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, and the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research. He is also a Core Faculty member for the Culture and Theory Ph.D. program at Irvine, as well as a Program Faculty member for the Arts, Computation, and Engineering graduate program.

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 1997
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, Stanford University
The Gay Archipelago: Postcolonial Sexual Subjectivities in Indonesia

My project uses the case of the gay and lesbian movement in Indonesia to test the hypothesis that globalization creates "translocal" forms of identity, community, and citizenship. Under conditions ranging from grudging tolerance to open bigotry, a growing movement of Indonesian men and women reach halfway across the world to appropriate the concepts "gay" and "lesbian," transforming them through magazines, national congresses, and the practices of daily life to interpret their experiences. How are we to understand identities and communities which confound traditional boundaries in this way? Where and how do the global and local come together in the identity and daily experience of gay and lesbian Indonesians? How does this movement reflect more general changes in Indonesia, the fourth most populous nation and largest Islamic society on earth, and in the West as well? Bringing together methodologies of participant observation, interviewing, and textual analysis-and a theoretical framework drawing from studies of globalization, sexuality, and identity-my comparative, multi-site project will be based upon fieldwork in three cities. Using the gay and lesbian movement's own metaphor of an archipelago as a starting point, I treat the movement not as a bounded entity, but rather as a translocal phenomenon-formed at the intersection of the local and global, but reducible to neither. By examining how Indonesians articulate gay and lesbian sexuality iµ the context of the state, gender, Islam, the new middle class, and the burgeoning AIDS epidemic, I aim to illuminate broader shifts in identity, community, and citizenship at the end of the twentieth century.