How can we respond to the challenges of combining activism and scholarship in regard to the topic of sexuality? This question is important when, in the context of continuing worldwide inequality, queer activists cannot allow governments and corporations to be the only entities acting at the global level. In particular, how are activists and scholars who are in some sense Western work for goals of social justice and make use of their privilege without having that privilege detract from the work of non-Westerners? In this article Tom Boellstorff discusses three possible strategies for responding to this state of affairs, based on his own experiences in Indonesia and elsewhere.
Tom Boellstorff is Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine, and Editor-in-Chief of American Anthropologist. His works include The Gay Archipelago: Sexuality and Nation in Indonesia (2005), A Coincidence of Desires: Anthropology, Queer Studies, Indonesia (2007), and Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human (2008), and the coauthored Ethnography and Virtual Worlds: A Handbook of Method (2012). He is co-editor of Speaking in Queer Tongues: Globalization and Gay Language (2004).