Margot Weiss is a cultural anthropologist with expertise in queer theory, queer and feminist anthropology, and left cultural critique. She holds an AB from the University of Chicago (1995), a Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies, and PhD in Cultural Anthropology from Duke University (2005). Professor Weiss is the Co-Chair of the Association for Queer Anthropology (AQA), a section of the American Anthropological Association.
Margot Weiss’s award-winning first book, Techniques of Pleasure: BDSM and the Circuits of Sexuality (Duke University Press, 2011), is an ethnography of BDSM communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. The book charts the sexual politics of neoliberalism, unsettling pat analyses of BDSM by linking spectacular performances of race, gender, and sexuality to class, consumerism, and the social dynamics of late capitalism. Techniques of Pleasure won the 2012 Ruth Benedict Prize for Outstanding Monograph from the Association for Queer Anthropology and was named a finalist by the Lambda Literary Foundation for best book in LGBT Studies.
Professor Weiss is currently writing her second book, “Visions of Sexual Justice.” The book thinks alongside queer left activists who are working to cultivate a radical political imagination in the midst of an impasse both economic and epistemological. Based on multisited fieldwork with activists in New York City, Chicago, and Montreal, the book explores the intellectual work of activism—the critical work of imagining otherwise—and asks what we can learn by juxtaposing activist and academic knowledge practices and desires, given the linked crises of the non-profit industrial complex and the neoliberal university.
Other publications analyze BDSM, the sexual politics of late capitalism, queer politics and neoliberalism, queer activism, LGBT/queer economic precarity, sexuality and American imperialism, the politics of knowledge, and contemporary queer anthropology. Weiss’s work has appeared in volumes such as Mapping Feminist Anthropology in the Twenty-First Century, The Routledge History of Queer America, Out in Public: Reinventing Lesbian / Gay Anthropology in a Globalizing World, and Global Justice and Desire: Queering Economy and journals such as GLQ, Cultural Anthropology, New Labor Forum, Journal of Homosexuality, Anthropologica, and Radical History Review. Her special forum on left intellectuals and the neoliberal university, a collection of short reflections and interviews, appeared in American Quarterly in 2012.
At Wesleyan, Professor Weiss is Associate Professor of American Studies and Anthropology and the current Chair of the Anthropology Department. She established and directs the clusters in Disability Studies and Queer Studies, and teaches courses in queer theory, the anthropology of sexuality and gender, ethnographic methods, and social theory. Some of her recent courses include Anthropology of Affect; Crafting Ethnography; Sex, Money, and Power; Transnational Sexualities; Critical Queer Studies; and Politics of the Body, a course she has taught at Wesleyan and at York CI, the women’s prison in Niantic. Professor Weiss has taught at Wesleyan since 2008.