Wesleyan portrait of Margot  Weiss

Margot Weiss

Associate Professor of Anthropology

255 High Street,

Associate Professor of American Studies

255 High Street, 201

Associate Professor, Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

255 High Street,

Coordinator, Queer Studies


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BA University of Chicago
MA Duke University
PHD Duke University

Margot Weiss

A cultural anthropologist, Margot Weiss's scholarship combines queer theory, left cultural critique, and ethnographic epistemologies to explore queer sexual cultures and politics amid the contradictions of contemporary US capitalism. Her major research projects include: the gendered, racialized, and class dynamics of BDSM in the San Francisco Bay Area; the politics of left intellectuals in the neoliberal US academy; and the knowledge practices of queer/left activists in New York, Chicago, and Montreal. She is the author of the award-winning ethnography Techniques of Pleasure: BDSM and the Circuits of Sexuality (Duke University Press, 2011), winner of the Ruth Benedict Book Prize and a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in LGBT Studies, and editor of Queer Then and Now: The David R. Kessler Lectures, 2002-2020 (The Feminist Press, 2023) and Unsettling Queer Anthropology: Foundations, Reorientations, and Departures (Duke University Press, 2024). She has published articles in a wide range of anthropology, queer studies, and American studies journals, including GLQ, American Quarterly, Cultural Anthropology, New Labor Forum, Sexualities, American Anthropologist, and Feminist Anthropology

At Wesleyan, Margot Weiss is jointly appointed in American Studies and Anthropology. She is also affiliated with the Program in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and director of the cluster in Queer Studies. Past president of the Association for Queer Anthropology (AQA), she currently serves on the board of CLAGS: The Center for LGBT/Queer Studies and the Society for Cultural Anthropology (SCA). She is a founding member of the Wesleyan University Chapter of the AAUP.

Professor Weiss has taught at Wesleyan University since 2008. She established the clusters in Disability Studies (in 2010) and Queer Studies (in 2013), and she chairs the GLASS Prize, awarded yearly for the best undergraduate research and writing in queer, trans, LGBT, or sexuality studies. She offers courses in queer theory, the anthropology of sexuality and gender, ethnographic methods, and social theory. Recent courses include: “Global Queer Studies,” “Theory in Anthropology: Anthropology of Affect,” “Queer Theories,” “Social Movements Lab,” “Crafting Ethnography," “Sex, Money, and Power,” “Reading Ethnography: Toward an Otherwise Anthropology,” and “Politics of the Body,” a course she taught simultaneously on Wesleyan’s campus and at York Correctional Institute in Niantic, CT.

Selected Scholarship:

Listen to a short interview on queer anthropology on AnthroBites, the Cultural Anthropology podcast

"Queer Ever After?," review essay on the contradictions of queer critique in increasingly straight times, in Public Books

"Queer Theory from Elsewhere and the Im/Proper Objects of Queer Anthropology" Feminist Anthropology 3(1).

The Interlocutor Slot: Citing, Crediting, Co-Theorizing and the Problem of Ethnographic ExpertiseAmerican Anthropologist 123(4)

Thinking Kink: Reflections on the Cultural Study of BDSM.” Sexualities 24(5-6)

"'Only the Truth Is Revolutionary': Porno Dialectics, Ethnography, and Anti-Capitalist Critique" symposium on Porn Work for Syndicate

Intimate Encounters: Queer Entanglements in Ethnographic Fieldwork.” Anthropological Quarterly 93(1)

Queer Politics in Neoliberal Times (1970s-2010s),” in Routledge History of Queer America, Don Romesburg (ed.). New York: Routledge.

Edited forum on the politics of Collaboration in Cultural Anthropology Fieldsights

Always After: Desiring Queerness, Desiring Anthropology.Cultural Anthropology 31(4)

Queer Precarity and the Myth of Gay Affluence” (with Amber Hollibaugh), New Labor Forum 24(3)

Special section on "Left Intellectuals and the Neoliberal University" in American Quarterly 64(4)

Regularly offered courses:

AMST 118 (xFGSS): “Social Norms/Social Power:  Queer Readings of ‘Difference’ in America (FYS)” First year seminar that explores intersections of difference, norms, and power, drawing on a range of queer and American studies materials. syllabus

AMST 201 (xFGSS): “Queer Theories: Junior Colloquium” Interdisciplinary introduction to queer theory, and the foundation for the American Studies concentration in queer studies. syllabus

ANTH 203 (xFGSS, AMST): “Sex, Money and Power: Anthropology of Intimacy and Exchange” This course explores the commodification of various intimacies–sexual and social–drawing on recent ethnography. syllabus

AMST 233 (xANTH, FGSS): “Global Queer Studies” This course explores global experiences of LGBT/Q life, bringing an explicitly transnational lens to a field too often dominated by U.S.-centered perspectives. syllabus

ANTH 295B: “Theory in Anthropology: Anthropology of Affect” This course explores a range of theories of affect –sensation, emotion, intensity, movement–and their intersection with anthropology and ethnography. syllabus

ANTH 309: “Re-reading Ethnography: Toward an Otherwise Anthropology” This advanced reading-centered course explores the post-2020 turn toward an “otherwise” (or decolonizing) cultural anthropology. syllabus

more at margotweiss.com          ||         download CV          ||         more on Professor Weiss's courses

Academic Affiliations

Office Hours

by appointment: https://calendly.com/margot-weiss


Fall 2023
AMST 117F - 01
Social Norms and Power (FYS)

ANTH 400 - 01
Cultural Analysis

Spring 2024
AMST 201 - 01
Queer Theories

ANTH 203 - 01
Sex, Money, and Power