Ara Wilson
  • Ara Wilson

  • Associate Professor and Affiliate of the Duke Initiative for Science & Society
  • Women's Studies Program
  • 210 East Duke Bldg., 90760, Durham, NC 27708
  • Campus Box Box 90760
  • Office Hours: Email to set up an appointment
  • Secondary web page
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Overview

    My work contributes to the feminist study of globalization and to what I call queer political economy (QPE). Through research informed by an ethnographic lens, my aim is to generate descriptions of social life within conditions shaped by transnational flows particularly of capital. I have conducted long-term fieldwork in Bangkok, Thailand.
  • Bio

    My Pedagogy: I aim to contribute to a robust liberal arts education that respects the complexity of knowledge (rather than viewing scholarship as information and technique to be instantly applied). I am a good fit for students who want to improve their command over thinking, who are curious about how complex the world is, and who want to develop their capacity to weigh in on public discussions. The topics I teach concern gender and sexuality including international issues, human rights, accessible economics, and historical and ethnographic perspectives. My courses include units on prostitution, Tupperware, Thailand, masculinity, and other odd bits. I work with graduate students who are interested in theory that is inflected with political economy, queer/sexuality studies, transnational flows (e.g, neoliberalism), and the analytical uses of interpretive empirical research (e.g., ethnography, oral histories, archival).
  • Other

    2006-2012 Director, Program in the Study of Sexualities .
  • Specialties

    • Globalization
    • Sexuality
    • Asia
  • Research Summary

    gender/sexuality in global modernity; urban Southeast Asia and transnational zones; cultural political economy and heterodox economics
  • Research Description

    My work contributes to the feminist study of globalization and to what I call queer political economy (QPE). Through research informed by an ethnographic lens, my aim is to generate descriptions of social life within conditions shaped by transnational flows, especially operations of global capitalism. This requires combining attention to economics (which I undertake with qualitative, heterodox approaches) with feminist, queer, and post-colonial theories about social arrangements and about our ways of thinking about them. I have conducted long-term fieldwork in Bangkok, Thailand exploring changes to sexuality, gender and ethnicity in non-Western modernity. I am working on two projects. One is a book project, Sexual Latitudes, that ponders how the stage for sexuality is now global, for example through new forms of international sexual politics in the UN orbit or the alter-globalization movements. This interest also extends to reflecting on the concept of "intimacy" as a rubric in feminist and queer analysis and pondering the unfulfilled intersection of feminist/queer and economic analysis. A second project examines medical tourism to Thailand and Singapore, which continues my interests in the interplay of globalization and intimate, embodied life.
  • Current Projects

    Sexual Latitudes: The Erotic Politics of Globalization (book),

    Market Shrines in Bangkok,

    Medical Tourism in Bangkok and Singapore

  • Areas of Interest

    Globalization & Transnational Conditions for Social Life
    UN, NGOs, Human Rights, Sexual Rights, Women's Rights
    Cultural Political Economy, Heterodox Economics, Marxist theory
    Gender & Sexuality
    Feminist, Queer, Postcolonial Theory
  • Education

      • Ph.D.,
      • Anthropology,
      • City University of New York,
      • 1997
      • M.Phil.,
      • City University of New York,
      • 1992
      • B.A.,
      • Anthropology,
      • Vassar College,
      • 1984
  • Awards, Honors and Distinctions

      • Faculty Manuscript Workship,
      • Mellon- Franklin Humanities Institute,
      • April, 2012
      • Faculty Recognition,
      • Duke LGBT Center, Lavender Graduation,
      • April, 2008
      • Fellowships for University Teachers,
      • National Endowment for the Humanities,
      • 0 2005
      • Fellowships, Grants, and Awards,
      • January, 2002-06
  • Selected Publications

      • A Wilson.
      • 2004.
      • The Intimate Economies of Bangkok: Tomboys, Tycoons, and Avon Ladies in The Global City.
      • University of California.
      • A Wilson.
      • 2010.
      • Medical Tourism in Bangkok.
      • manual
      • .
      • A Wilson.
      • 2010.
      • NGOs as Erotic Sites.
      • manual
      • .
      • A Wilson.
      • 2007.
      • Feminism in the space of the world social forum.
      • Journal of International Women's Studies
      • 8:
      • 10-27
      • .
      Publication Description

      Despite clear affinities, the integration of feminism into the World Social Forum remains uneven, in ways reminiscent of well-known histories of women's movements with various lefts. This essay draws on observations of the 2005 WSF at Porto Alegre, Brazil and the 2006 African Social Forum in Bamako, Mali, as well as secondary literature, to explore the articulation of transnational feminism and the World Social Forum. Using concrete practices, texts, and spaces, I discuss different dimensions of the interaction of feminism with the WSF, including political norms, political geography, and historical trajectories. The relation between feminism and the WSF hinges not only on how "feminist" the WSF is but also on what feminists are doing and trying to do at the Forum.

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  • Postdoctoral Students

    • Nicole Butterfield
      • Fall 2009
      • PhD student from Central European University working on a project on LGBT politics in Eastern Europe
    • Elisabeth Engebretsen
      • 2008 -2009
      • Transnational Sexualities post-doc fellow
    • Svati Shah
      • 2008-2009
      • Transnational Sexualities post-doc fellow
  • PhD Students

    • Tamar Shirinian
    • Bryan Pitt
      • 2009 - present
  • Teaching

    • WOMENST 361.01
      • East Duke 204D
      • MW 01:25 PM-02:40 PM
  • feminism