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Bill Jankowiak

Department of Anthropology
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Desiring Sex, Longing for Love: A Tripartite Conundrum

Friday, November 6, 2009
Lecture Hall 2, 4:00 PM

Abstract

Sexual desire, romantic passion, and companionship love, their interrelationship and distinctiveness present different structural and psychological dilemmas for the individual and the society. Although both forms of loves are present in every culture, they are often not equally valued, celebrated, or honored. Consequently, the tension between love and sex is not a simple contrasting of the two values, but a tripartite conflict between the sexual imperative, romantic passion, and comfort love.

To illustrate and explore the implications of the tripartite conflict,the results of several recently competed as well as on going research projects that include family life in an American polygamous communities, rituals design to sustain comfort love amongst American and Chinese “swingers,” Chinese men’s motivation for desiring a mistress over a prostitute, and the results of a just completed qualitative study of individuals who are deeply in love with two people at the same time. The implications of these and other findings for evolutionary and cultural theories of human love and sexuality will also be explored

Biography

William Jankowiak is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He is author of numerous books and journal articles that focus on Chinese society, Mormon polygamous families, and romantic love around the world. When not doing field research or “falling” in love, he spends most of his time with his daughter and her dog, Bugsy.

Besides numerous scientific articles and book chapters, he is the editor of Intimacies: Love and Sex Across Cultures (Columbia University press, 2008), Romantic Passion (Columbia University Press, 1995), Well Being, Family Affections, and Ethical Nationalism in Urban China (Journal of Urban Anthropology, 2004), (with Dan Bradburd) Drugs, Labor and Colonial Expansion (University of Arizona Press, 2003), and Sex, Death and Hierarchy in a Chinese City (Columbia University Press, 1993).

Readings

  1. Can You Love More Than One Person At The Same Time? A Research Report. William Jankowiak and Helen Gerth.
  2. Teasing with Sex, Hunting for a Relationship: What a Popular Adult Dating/Sex Site Can Tell Us About 21st Century USA Female Sexual Behavior. William Jankowiak, Jocie Bartlett, Sara Hill, Jennifer Soika, and Michelle Escasa.

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