My younger and smarter friend and fellow Nebraskan Tom Boellstorff has a new book, The Gay Archipelago: Sexuality and Nation in Indonesia, and it is published by Princeton University Press. Tom is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at The University of California, Irvine.
Tom’s book is scholarly and important. Tom is a “cultural
anthropologist” and that means he is more interested in being than in
bones. He prefers to study the how and why we cobble together interests
and the what and who of notions that separate us. Here is a fascinating
a quote from his Historical Temptations chapter:
Only since the 1970s or so have people in Indonesia called themselves gay or lesbi, yet many Westerners seek a clear temporal trajectory connecting gay and lesbi
with “indigenous” homosexualities.
This deep-seated desire for unbroken
history has manay precedents in the Western tradition, most notably the
Old Testament chains of “begats” that establish legitimacy through a
patriline. While on rare occasions I have encountered gay and lesbi Indonesians who share this concern with a clear temporal trajectory, what demands explanation is that most do not….
Tom’s insights into community and belonging are memorable and well-argued and precisely researched. Buy The Gay Archipelago: Sexuality and Nation in Indonesia and you will know more than you understand today and that is the mark of a great teacher and a superb scholar.