Roger Lancaster

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Roger Lancaster is a professor of anthropology and cultural studies at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, where from 1999 until 2014 he directed the Cultural Studies PhD Program. He is known for his writing in LGBT studies, gender/sexuality, culture and political economy, and critical science studies. His research tries to understand how sexual mores, racial hierarchies, and class predicaments interact in a changing world. [1]

Anthropology The science of human behavior and societies

Anthropology is the scientific study of humans, human behavior and societies in the past and present. Social anthropology studies patterns of behaviour and cultural anthropology studies cultural meaning, including norms and values. Linguistic anthropology studies how language influences social life. Biological or physical anthropology studies the biological development of humans.

Cultural studies is a field of theoretically, politically, and empirically engaged cultural analysis that concentrates upon the political dynamics of contemporary culture, its historical foundations, defining traits, conflicts, and contingencies. Cultural studies researchers generally investigate how cultural practices relate to wider systems of power associated with or operating through social phenomena, such as ideology, class structures, national formations, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, and generation. Cultural studies views cultures not as fixed, bounded, stable, and discrete entities, but rather as constantly interacting and changing sets of practices and processes. The field of cultural studies encompasses a range of theoretical and methodological perspectives and practices. Although distinct from the discipline of cultural anthropology and the interdisciplinary field of ethnic studies, cultural studies draws upon and has contributed to each of these fields.

George Mason University public liberal arts and research university in Fairfax, Virginia

George Mason University is a public research university in Fairfax, Virginia. It was officially established in 1956 as a Northern Virginia branch of the University of Virginia and later became an independent institution in 1972. It has since grown to become the largest four-year public university in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The university is named after the founding father George Mason, a Virginia planter and politician who authored the Virginia Declaration of Rights, the basis for the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights. Mason operates four campuses in Virginia, with a fifth campus in Songdo, South Korea.


Lancaster is a fellow in the American Anthropological Association. From 2004 to 2006, he served as the AAA's media liaison on kinship, the family, and marriage, fielding questions on same-sex marriage from a range of major media organizations. [2] [3]

American Anthropological Association learned society

The American Anthropological Association (AAA) is an organization of scholars and practitioners in the field of anthropology. With 10,000 members, the association, based in Arlington, Virginia, includes archaeologists, cultural anthropologists, biological anthropologists, linguistic anthropologists, linguists, medical anthropologists and applied anthropologists in universities and colleges, research institutions, government agencies, museums, corporations and non-profits throughout the world. The AAA publishes more than 20 peer-reviewed scholarly journals, available in print and online through AnthroSource. The AAA was founded in 1902.

Kinship human relationship term; web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of most humans in most societies; form of social connection

In anthropology, kinship is the web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of all humans in all societies, although its exact meanings even within this discipline are often debated. Anthropologist Robin Fox states that "the study of kinship is the study of what man does with these basic facts of life – mating, gestation, parenthood, socialization, siblingship etc." Human society is unique, he argues, in that we are "working with the same raw material as exists in the animal world, but [we] can conceptualize and categorize it to serve social ends." These social ends include the socialization of children and the formation of basic economic, political and religious groups.

Same-sex marriage is the marriage of two people of the same sex or gender, entered into in a civil or religious ceremony. There are records of same-sex marriage dating back to the first century though there is no legal provision in Roman Law, and it was banned in the Roman Empire in the fourth. In the modern era, same-sex marriage started being legalized at the beginning of the 21st century. Today, it is available in 28 countries.


Lancaster's first book, Thanks to God and the Revolution: Religion and Class Consciousness in the New Nicaragua (1988), was a study of liberation theology and other religious currents in Sandinista Nicaragua. Joining debates on the nature and origins of class consciousness, the book reworked established Marxist understandings of the role of religion in social life. From a Marxist-populist perspective, it views popular or folk religion as a recurring site where poor people reflect on class inequalities and devise understandings of morality and justice consistent with their self-interests. Its main argument is that elements of an implicit class consciousness are discernible in traditional saint's cults and in popular rites and festivities, and that these elements provide a springboard for the subsequent development of forms of explicit class consciousness (in liberation theology, Sandinismo, and Marxism).

Class consciousness

In political theory and particularly Marxism, class consciousness is the set of beliefs that a person holds regarding their social class or economic rank in society, the structure of their class, and their class interests. According to Karl Marx, it is an awareness that is key to sparking a revolution that would "create a dictatorship of the proletariat, transforming it from a wage-earning, property-less mass into the ruling class".

Marxism and religion

19th century German philosopher Karl Marx, the founder and primary theorist of Marxism, had an antithetical and complex attitude to religion, viewing it primarily as "the soul of soulless conditions", the "opium of the people" that had been useful to the ruling classes since it gave the working classes false hope for millennia. At the same time, Marx saw religion as a form of protest by the working classes against their poor economic conditions and their alienation. In the Marxist–Leninist interpretation of Marxist theory, primarily developed by Georgian revolutionary and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, religion is seen as hindering human development. Due to this, a number of Marxist–Leninist governments in the 20th century, such as the Soviet Union after Vladimir Lenin and the People's Republic of China under Mao Zedong, implemented rules introducing state atheism.

In religious studies and folkloristics, folk religion, popular religion, or vernacular religion comprises various forms and expressions of religion that are distinct from the official doctrines and practices of organized religion. The precise definition of folk religion varies among scholars. Sometimes also termed popular belief, it consists of ethnic or regional religious customs under the umbrella of a religion, but outside official doctrine and practices.

Lancaster's first book had traced the Sandinista revolution's ascent; his second book examined its decline. Life is Hard: Machismo, Danger, and the Intimacy of Power in Nicaragua (1992) was an ethnography of everyday life during the contra war and its attendant economic crisis. Chronicling the lives of three poor families among their networks of friends and kin, it dissects plural and intimate forms of power—in gender relations, color discriminations, and same-sex relationships—that, Lancaster argues, undermined attempts to construct a revolutionary New Man (and Woman) and thus subverted the Sandinista project from below. The book is noted for its development of an analysis of machismo as a system of male domination over both women and men, and for its analysis of active/passive roles in male same-sex intercourse in some Latin American settings. Weaving semiotics, poststructuralism, and the Bakhtin school into an overarching Marxist approach, Life is Hard traded in the topical eclecticism of cultural studies, setting brisk chapters of media criticism alongside interviews and descriptions of Nicaragua's survival economy. The book won the Society for the Study of Social Problems' C. Wright Mills Award and the Society of Lesbian and Gay Anthropologists' Ruth Benedict Prize. [4] [5]

Contras U.S.-supported right-wing rebels of Nicaragua

The Contras were the various U.S.-backed and funded right-wing rebel groups that were active from 1979 to the early 1990s in opposition to the socialist Sandinista Junta of National Reconstruction Government in Nicaragua. Among the separate contra groups, the Nicaraguan Democratic Force (FDN) emerged as the largest by far. In 1987, virtually all contra organizations were united, at least nominally, into the Nicaraguan Resistance.

The New Man is a utopian concept that involves the creation of a new ideal human being or citizen replacing un-ideal human beings or citizens. The meaning of a New Man has widely varied and various alternatives have been suggested by a variety of religions and political ideologies, including Christianity, communism, classical liberalism, fascism, and utopian socialism.

Machismo Man in Iberian-descended cultures expected to possess and display bravery, courage and strength as well as wisdom and leadership

Machismo is the sense of being 'manly' and self-reliant, the concept associated with "a strong sense of masculine pride: an exaggerated masculinity." It is associated with "a man's responsibility to provide for, protect, and defend his family."

Lancaster's third monograph, The Trouble with Nature: Sex in Science and Popular Culture (2003), was a polemic against evolutionary psychology and other reductionist explanations for gender roles and sexual orientations. The book contrasts anthropological and historical perspectives on cultural diversity with evolutionary just-so stories, defending a social constructionist approach to human nature in chapters on sexual selection, masculinity, beauty, the social organization of reproduction, and the gay gene. The book's argument proceeds in part by showing that reductionist ideas are unscientific on their own terms and in part by underscoring a historical irony: stories about a hardwired and immutable human nature fluoresce in a period marked by pitched political struggles around sex, when shifts in production and institutional changes have thrown gender and sexual roles into question. Such stories offer comfort and certainty at a time when not much really seems certain about the nature of men, women, and others.

Evolutionary psychology Application of evolutionary theory to identify which human psychological traits are evolved adaptations

Evolutionary psychology is a theoretical approach in the social and natural sciences that examines psychological structure from a modern evolutionary perspective. It seeks to identify which human psychological traits are evolved adaptations – that is, the functional products of natural selection or sexual selection in human evolution. Adaptationist thinking about physiological mechanisms, such as the heart, lungs, and immune system, is common in evolutionary biology. Some evolutionary psychologists apply the same thinking to psychology, arguing that the modularity of mind is similar to that of the body and with different modular adaptations serving different functions. Evolutionary psychologists argue that much of human behavior is the output of psychological adaptations that evolved to solve recurrent problems in human ancestral environments.

Reductionism Philosophical view explaining systems in terms of smaller parts

Reductionism is any of several related philosophical ideas regarding the associations between phenomena which can be described in terms of other simpler or more fundamental phenomena.

In science and philosophy, a just-so story is an unverifiable narrative explanation for a cultural practice, a biological trait, or behavior of humans or other animals. The pejorative nature of the expression is an implicit criticism that reminds the hearer of the essentially fictional and unprovable nature of such an explanation. Such tales are common in folklore and mythology.

His fourth monograph, Sex Panic and the Punitive State (2011), won the author’s second Ruth Benedict Prize. The book's first part provides a historical and ethnographic account of modern sex offender laws in the US; it shows how a series of sex panics have institutionalized a culture of sexual fear and produced draconian, ineffective laws. Its second part provides a wider polemical analysis of the development of mass incarceration and other aspects of the punitive state.

In addition to his monographs, Lancaster coedited (with Micaela di Leonardo) The Gender/Sexuality Reader: Culture, History, Political Economy (1997), a large advanced interdisciplinary introduction to the field. The Reader foregrounded historical, anthropological, and political-economic approaches at a time when literary theory dominated the field.


International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.

Related Research Articles

Heteronormativity is the belief that heterosexuality, predicated on the gender binary, is the norm or default sexual orientation. It assumes that sexual and marital relations are most fitting between people of opposite sex. A "heteronormative" view therefore involves alignment of biological sex, sexuality, gender identity and gender roles. Heteronormativity is often linked to heterosexism and homophobia.

A sexual norm can refer to a personal or a social norm. Most cultures have social norms regarding sexuality, and define normal sexuality to consist only of certain sex acts between individuals who meet specific criteria of age, consanguinity, race/ethnicity, and/or social role and socioeconomic status.

Premarital sex is sexual activity practiced by people before they are married. Historically, premarital sex was considered a moral issue which was taboo in many cultures and considered a sin by a number of religions, but since about the 1960s, it has become more widely accepted, especially in Western countries. A 2014 Pew study on global morality found that premarital sex was considered particularly unacceptable in "predominantly Muslim nations", such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Jordan, Pakistan, and Egypt, each having over 90% disapproval, while people in Western European countries were the most accepting, with Spain, Germany, and France expressing less than 10% disapproval.

Index of sociology articles Wikipedia list article

This is an index of sociology articles. For a shorter list, see List of basic sociology topics.

The social construction of sexual behavior—its taboos, regulation, and social and political impact—has had a profound effect on the various cultures of the world since prehistoric times.

Gayle Rubin American cultural anthropologist, activist, and feminist

Gayle S. Rubin is an American cultural anthropologist best known as an activist and theorist of sex and gender politics. She has written on a range of subjects including feminism, sadomasochism, prostitution, pedophilia, pornography and lesbian literature, as well as anthropological studies and histories of sexual subcultures, especially focused in urban contexts. Her article "Thinking Sex" is widely regarded as a founding text of gay and lesbian studies, sexuality studies, and queer theory. She is an associate professor of anthropology, women's studies, and comparative literature at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Marianismo aspect of the female gender role in the machismo of Hispanic American folk culture

Marianismo is an aspect of the female gender role in the machismo of Hispanic American folk culture. It is the veneration for feminine virtues like purity and moral strength. For example, it represents the "virgin" aspect of the dichotomy. Evelyn Stevens states: [I]t teaches that women are semi divine, morally superior to and spiritually stronger than men." The ideas within marianismo include those of feminine passivity and sexual purity. In marianismo, power that is granted to women stems from the female ability to produce life.

Multicultural India has developed its discourse on sexuality differently based on its distinct regions with their own unique cultures. However, one common aspect remains: the existence of a subtle conspiracy of silence and taboos that clouds the Indian world of sexual desires and expressions. The origins of this silence towards India's rich contributions to sexuality and shunning of it almost are to be found in the repercussions of the colonial rule and of the Bible. This shaped the attitude and opinions Indian people hold about their sexuality today; one that is hegemonically heterosexual and must aim at procreation after marriage. However, from the second half of the 20th century, several significant voices have challenged this silence imposed over sexuality and questioned the roles assigned to desires within the socio-political and artistic fields. Many recently published studies confirm the richness of India's erotic past and popular voices are now spotlighting this for the masses to know. A myriad of folk tales, sculptures like those in Khajuraho, religious poetry and scholary documents reveal homoerotic content and how love and sex between women, men, gods, semi-gods and goddesses was expressed.

Sandinista ideology or Sandinismo is a series of political and economic philosophies championed and instituted by the Nicaraguan Sandinista National Liberation Front throughout the late twentieth century. The ideology and movement acquired its name, image and, most crucially, military style from Augusto César Sandino, a Nicaraguan revolutionary leader who waged a guerrilla war against the United States Marines and the conservative Somoza National Guards in the early twentieth century. Despite using the Sandino name, the principals of modern Sandinista ideology were mainly developed by Carlos Fonseca, who, in likeness to the leaders of the Cuban Revolution of the 1950s, sought to inspire socialist populism among Nicaragua's peasant population. One of these main philosophies involved the institution of an educational system that would "free" the population from the perceived historical fallacies spouted by the ruling Somoza family. By awakening political thought among the people, proponents of Sandinista ideology believed that human resources would be available to not only execute a guerrilla war against the Somoza regime but also build a society resistant to economic and military intervention imposed by foreign entities.

Gilbert Herdt American anthropologist (born 1949)

Gilbert H. Herdt is Emeritus Professor of Human Sexuality Studies and Anthropology and a Founder of the Department of Sexuality Studies and National Sexuality Resource Center at San Francisco State University. He founded the Summer Institute on Sexuality and Society at the University of Amsterdam (1996). He founded the PhD Program in Human Sexuality at the California Institute for Integral Studies, San Francisco (2013). He conducted long term field work among the Sambia people of Papua New Guinea, and has written widely on the nature and variation in human sexual expression in Papua New Guinea, Melanesia, and across culture.

Sherry Beth Ortner is an American cultural anthropologist and has been a Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at UCLA since 2004.

LGBT rights in Nicaragua

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Nicaragua may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity are legal in Nicaragua. Discrimination based on sexual orientation is banned in certain areas, including in employment and access to health services.

Situational sexual behavior differs from that which the person normally exhibits, due to a social environment that in some way permits, encourages, or compels the behavior in question. This can also include situations where a person's usual sexual behavior may not be possible, so rather than not engaging in sexual activity at all, they may engage in different sexual behaviors.

Sexual meanings are the meanings that are attributed, by a particular cultural-social-historical context, to sexual acts and broadly to all the aspects of the erotic dimension of human sexual experience. This also include the beliefs on what is considered sexual and what is not. Sexual meanings are social and cultural constructs, and they are metabolized and subjectivized by the individual only after cultural and social mediation.

Sexuality and space is a field of study within human geography. The phrase encompasses all relationships and interactions between human sexuality, space and place, themes studied within cultural geography, i.e., environmental and architectural psychology, urban sociology, gender studies, queer studies, socio-legal studies, planning, housing studies and criminology.

This is a list of topics related to the issue of masculism, men's liberation, the men's movement, and men's rights:

Ara Wilson American writer

Ara Wilson is a university professor and author. Her work focuses on the feminist ethnography of globalization through description and analysis of various market economies. Her work examines the cultural, social, and sexual aspects of Bangkok economies, as well as illustrating the inaccuracies of Eurocentric ideology. Between 1988 and 2000, Wilson did fieldwork in Thailand and spent the years 1992-1994 doing research for The Intimate Economies of Bangkok: Tomboys, Tycoons, and Avon Ladies in the Global City. Wilson’s research is heavily focused on sexual and ethnic identity which “are produced and transformed through the modernity of the non-Western world”. Wilson is currently director of the program in the study of sexualities at Duke University, where she is also an Associate Professor of Women’s Studies. Wilson works extensively with non-governmental organizations dealing with women’s rights, as well as sexual rights in Thailand.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to human sexuality:

Lucinda Ramberg is an American anthropologist whose work focuses on gender, sexuality, religion and health. She was awarded multiple prizes in 2015 for her first book, Given to the Goddess: South Indian Devadasis and the Sexuality of Religion. Ramberg is Associate Professor in Anthropology and Director of Graduate Studies in the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program at Cornell University.


  1. "Faculty and Staff: Roger N Lancaster". Cultural Studies. Retrieved June 5, 2016.
  2. "US Marriage Model is Not Universal Norm". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Retrieved April 28, 2011.
  3. "MARRIAGE: THE STATE OF THE UNION; A knot tied in many ways; Anthropologists and historians point out that the history of matrimony is quite fluid. The constant? Economics". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 28, 2011.
  5. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved March 5, 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)