Gilbert Herdt
Gilbert H. Herdt is Professor of Human Sexuality
Human sexuality
Human sexuality is the awareness of gender differences, and the capacity to have erotic experiences and responses. Human sexuality can also be described as the way someone is sexually attracted to another person whether it is to opposite sexes , to the same sex , to either sexes , or not being...

 Studies and Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

 and a Founder of the Department of Sexuality Studies and National Sexuality Resource Center
National Sexuality Resource Center
The National Sexuality Resource Center is a San Francisco-based organization which advocates the positive representation of human sexuality, creates educational content, and provides training about human sexuality...

 at San Francisco State University
San Francisco State University
San Francisco State University is a public university located in San Francisco, California. As part of the 23-campus California State University system, the university offers over 100 areas of study from nine academic colleges...



Herdt has taught at Stanford University
Stanford University
The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university on an campus located near Palo Alto, California. It is situated in the northwestern Santa Clara Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula, approximately northwest of San...

, the University of Chicago
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

, the University of Amsterdam, and the University of Washington
University of Washington
University of Washington is a public research university, founded in 1861 in Seattle, Washington, United States. The UW is the largest university in the Northwest and the oldest public university on the West Coast. The university has three campuses, with its largest campus in the University...

. In early 2000s, Herdt cofounded the Institute on Sexuality, Social Inequality and Health that studies all forms of sexuality and discrimination that affect community building, sexual culture and sexual health.

He specializes in sexuality and gender identity-based cultures
Sexuality and gender identity-based cultures
Sexuality and gender identity-based cultures are subcultures and communities composed of persons who have shared experiences, background, or interests due to a common sexual or gender identity. Among the first to argue that members of sexual minorities can constitute cultural minorities as well as...

. His studies of the 'Sambia' people — a pseudonym
A pseudonym is a name that a person assumes for a particular purpose and that differs from his or her original orthonym...

 he created — of Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea , officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is a country in Oceania, occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and numerous offshore islands...

 analyzes how culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

 and society
A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations...

 create sexual meanings and practices
Human sexual behavior
Human sexual activities or human sexual practices or human sexual behavior refers to the manner in which humans experience and express their sexuality. People engage in a variety of sexual acts from time to time, and for a wide variety of reasons...

. The Sambia are unique in that they require males to undergo three specific sexual phases in their lives. Boys must provide sexual service to young men
Adolescence is a transitional stage of physical and mental human development generally occurring between puberty and legal adulthood , but largely characterized as beginning and ending with the teenage stage...

, adolescents must then receive oral sex
Oral sex
Oral sex is sexual activity involving the stimulation of the genitalia of a sex partner by the use of the mouth, tongue, teeth or throat. Cunnilingus refers to oral sex performed on females while fellatio refer to oral sex performed on males. Anilingus refers to oral stimulation of a person's anus...

 from boys, and males enter adulthood by becoming heterosexual.

In the United States, Herdt has also studied adolescents
Adolescence is a transitional stage of physical and mental human development generally occurring between puberty and legal adulthood , but largely characterized as beginning and ending with the teenage stage...

 and their families, the emergence of HIV
Human immunodeficiency virus is a lentivirus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome , a condition in humans in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive...

 and gay culture, and the role that social policy
Social policy
Social policy primarily refers to guidelines, principles, legislation and activities that affect the living conditions conducive to human welfare. Thus, social policy is that part of public policy that has to do with social issues...

 plays in sexual health.

He has written and edited some 30 books, and more than 100 scientific papers
Academic publishing
Academic publishing describes the subfield of publishing which distributes academic research and scholarship. Most academic work is published in journal article, book or thesis form. The part of academic written output that is not formally published but merely printed up or posted is often called...

. He is also the general editor of Worlds of Desire, and an associate editor of Journal of Culture, Sexuality, and Health, Journal of Men and Masculinities, and Transaction: Journal of Social Science and Modern Society.


Herdt is the recipient of various awards and research grants
Research funding
Research funding is a term generally covering any funding for scientific research, in the areas of both "hard" science and technology and social science. The term often connotes funding obtained through a competitive process, in which potential research projects are evaluated and only the most...

, including:
  • Pre-doctoral Fulbright Scholarship
    Fulbright Program
    The Fulbright Program, including the Fulbright-Hays Program, is a program of competitive, merit-based grants for international educational exchange for students, scholars, teachers, professionals, scientists and artists, founded by United States Senator J. William Fulbright in 1946. Under the...

     to Australia
    Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

  • William Simon Henry Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship
  • Fellow of American Anthropological Association
    American Anthropological Association
    The American Anthropological Association is a professional organization of scholars and practitioners in the field of anthropology. With 11,000 members, the Arlington, Virginia based association includes archaeologists, cultural anthropologists, biological anthropologists, linguistic...

    , International Academy of Sex Research
    International Academy of Sex Research
    The International Academy of Sex Research is a scientific society for researchers in sexology. According to John Bancroft, retired director of the Kinsey Institute, IASR "can claim...most of the field's leading researchers." IASR is unique among sexology organizations in that individuals must...

    , and Royal Anthropological Institute (UK).


  • 2007 21st Century Sexualities: Contemporary Issues in Health, Education, and Rights, editor with Cymene Howe. Routledge
  • 2006 Sexual Inequalities and Social Justice, editor with Niels Teunys. University of California Press
  • 2001 Children of Horizons: how gay and lesbian teens are leading a new way out of the closet, editor with author Andrew Boxer. Beacon Press
  • 2001 Secrecy and Cultural Reality. University of Michigan Press
  • 2000 Something to Tell You: The Road Families Travel When a Child Is Gay. Columbia University Press
  • 1999 Sambia Sexual Cultures: Essays from the Field. University of Chicago Press
  • 1998 Rituals of Manhood, edited by Gilbert Herdt. Transaction Publishers
  • 1997 Sexual Cultures and Migration in the Era of AIDS: Anthropological and Demographic Perspectives (International Studies in Demography). Oxford University Press
  • 1993 Gay Culture In America: Essays From the Field. Beacon Press
  • 1993 Ritualized Homosexuality in Melanesia (Studies in Melanesian Anthropology), editor Gilbert Herdt. University of California Press
  • 1990 Intimate Communications: Erotics and the Study of Culture, with author Robert J. Stoller. Columbia University Press

External links

  • Radio interview on Philosophy Talk
    Philosophy Talk
    Philosophy Talk is a talk radio program co-hosted by John Perry and Ken Taylor, who are professors at Stanford University. The show is also available as a podcast, available for purchase. The program deals both with fundamental problems of philosophy and with the works of famous philosophers,...

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