Don Kulick



I am an anthropologist committed to ethnographic fieldwork as a method and as a way to approach and extend theories about interaction, social life and subjective understanding. I have conducted fieldwork in Papua New Guinea, Brazil, Sweden, Denmark and Italy. My writing addresses topics such as the language socialization of children, language death, the anthropology of literacy, indigenous forms of Christianity, reflexive epistemology, prostitution, queer theory, transgender, language and sexuality, fat, and ethics and disability.

My new book, Loneliness and Its Opposite: sex, disability and the ethics of engagement (written with Swedish historian Jens Rydström), was recently published by Duke University Press.

As part of my longstanding involvement with vulnerable populations, I have become interested in animals and the species boundary. I teach a course on animals and have written an article about fat pets.

I spent most of 2009 back in Gapun village, Papua New Guinea, and I have recently completed a grammar and dictionary of the moribund language spoken there, titled Tayap Mer: Grammar and Dictionary of a Papuan Isolate Language

I am currently working on a new monograph about Gapun titled The End: how a language dies.


I have taught or plan on teaching courses including Anthropology of Language, Anthropology of Gender and Sexuality, Contemporary Debates on the Species Boundary, Anthropology of the Unconscious, Poststructuralist Theorists, and Anthropology of Vulnerability.

Selected books

2006: The Language and Sexuality Reader, complied and edited by Deborah Cameron and Don Kulick. London and New York: Routledge.

2005: Fat: The Anthropology of an Obsession, edited by Don Kulick and Anne Meneley. New York: Tarcher/Penguin (translation into Korean underway, Seoul, Sodong Publishers).

2005: Queersverige [Queer Sweden], editor Don Kulick. Stockholm: Natur och Kultur.

2003: Language and Sexuality, Deborah Cameron and Don Kulick. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press (Japanese translation: 言語および性別, Tokyo: Sangen Shah, 2009).

1998: Travesti: Sex, Gender and Culture among Brazilian Transgendered Prostitutes. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (translated into Portuguese as Travesti: prostituição, sexo, gênero e cultura no Brasil, Editora Fiocruz, 2008).

1995 Taboo: Sex, Identity, and Erotic Subjectivity in Anthropological Fieldwork, edited by Don Kulick and Margaret Willson. London: Routledge. (translated into Turkish as Tabu: Antropolojik Alan Çalı!masında Seks, Kimlik ve Erotik Öznellik, 2001).

1992: Language Shift and Cultural Reproduction: Socialization, Self, and Syncretism in a Papua New Guinean Village. New York: Cambridge University Press.

1987: Från Kön till Genus: Kvinnligt och Manligt i ett Kulturellt Perspektiv [From Sex to Gender: Female and Male in a Cultural Perspective], editor Don Kulick. Borås: Carlssons Bokförlag.

Selected articles

2012: En unken och beklaglig människosyn: män, sex och funktionshinder [‘A stale and lamentable view of people: men, sex and disability’]. In Andra män: maskulinitet, normskapande och jämställdhet [Other Men: masculinity, norm-making and gender equality], edited by Lucas Gottzén and Rickard Jonsson, Gleerups: 25-44.

2010: Humorless lesbians. In Femininity, Feminism and Gendered Discourse, edited by Janet Holmes and Meredith Marra, Cambridge Scholars Press.

2009: Scandalous acts: The politics of shame among Brazilian travesti prostitutes. (with Charles Klein). In Gay Shame, edited by David Halperin and Valerie Traub, University of Chicago Press, 312-38.

2009: Fat pets. In Fat Studies in the UK, edited by Corinna Tomrley
 and Ann Kaloski Naylor. York, UK: Raw Nerve Books, 35-50. Also published in Portuguese as ‘Animais gordos e a dissolução da fronteiras entre as espécies’ Mana 15(2): 481-508.

2009: Can there be an anthropology of homophobia? In Homophobias: lust and loathing across time and space, edited by David Murray. Durham: Duke University Press, 19-33.

2009: Soccer, sex and scandal in Brazil. Anthropology Now 1 (3): 32-42.

2009: Gender Politics. Men and Masculinities 11 (2): 186-92. Special issue on “Men Doing the Anthropology of Women”, edited by David Berliner and Douglas Falen.

2008: Cool heads and hot hearts. Sexualities 11(1/2): 80-86.

2006: Theory in furs: Masochist anthropology. Current Anthropology 47 (6): 933-52.

2006: Ensamhetens gränser: onani och socialitet [The limits of solitude: masturbation and sociality]. In Den Moderna Ensamheten [Loneliness and Modernity], edited by Maria Karlsson and Sharon Rider. Stockholm: Symposion, 69-92.

2005: Four hundred thousand Swedish perverts. GLQ 11 (2): 205-35.

2005: Identity Crisis? (with Deborah Cameron), Language and Communication 25: 107-125.    

2004: Language socialization (with Bambi Schieffelin). In A Companion to Linguistic Anthropology, edited by Alessandro Duranti, Oxford: Blackwell, 349-68.

2003: Sex in the new Europe: The criminalization of clients and Swedish fear of penetration. Anthropological Theory 3(2):199-218.

2003: Language and desire. In The Handbook of Language and Gender, edited by Janet Holms and Miriam Myerhoff. Oxford: Blackwell, 119-141.

2003: No. Language and Communication 23(2):139-51.

2000: Gay & lesbian language. Annual Review of Anthropology 29: 243-85.

1999: Transgender and language: A review of the literature and suggestions for the future. GLQ 5(4):605-622.

1997: The gender of Brazilian transgendered prostitutes. American Anthropologist 99(3):574- 585.

1997: A man in the house: The boyfriends of Brazilian travesti prostitutes. Social Text 52/53, 15(3-4):135-162.

1996: Causing a commotion: Public scandal as resistance among Brazilian transgendered prostitutes. Anthropology Today 12(6): 3-7.

1994: Rambo's wife saves the day: Subjugating the gaze and subverting the narrative in a New Guinean swamp. (with Margaret Willson). Visual Anthropology Review 10 (2): 1-13.

1993: Speaking as a woman: Structure and gender in domestic arguments in a Papua New Guinean village. Cultural Anthropology 8(3):99-129.

1992: The structure of the Taiap (Gapun) language. (with Christopher Stroud). In The Language Game: Papers in Memory of Donald C. Laycock, edited byTom Dutton, Malcom Ross and Darrel Tryon. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, 203-226.

1990: Christianity, cargo and ideas of self: Patterns of literacy in a Papua New Guinean village (with Christopher Stroud). Man 25:286-303.