Intimacies: Love and Sex Across Cultures

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William R. Jankowiak
Columbia University Press, Aug 13, 2013 - Family & Relationships - 290 pages
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No culture is ever completely successful or satisfied with its synthesis of romantic love, companionship, and sexual desire. Whether the setting is a busy metropolis or a quiet farming village, a tension always exists between a community's sexual habits and customs and what it believes to be the proper context for love. Even in Western societies, we prefer sexual passion to romance and companionship, and no study of any culture has shown that individuals regard passion and affection equally.

The pursuit of love and sex has generated an infinite number of ambiguities and contradictions, yet every community hopes to find a resolution to this conflict either by joining, dividing, or stressing one act over the other. In this follow-up to Romantic Passion: A Universal Experience?, William R. Jankowiak examines how different cultures rationalize the expression of passionate and comfort love and physical sex. He begins by mapping out the intricacies of the love/sex conundrum and the psychological dilemma of reconciling these competing forces. He then follows with essays on sex, love, and intimacy among Central African foragers and farmers; the love dyad in Lithuania; intimacy among the Lahu of Southwestern China; the interplay of love, sex, and marriage in the High Himalayas; verbalized experiences of love and sexuality in Indonesia; love work as it relates to sex work among prostitutes; intimacies and estrangements in the marital and extramarital relationships of Huli men; infidelity and masculinity in Southwestern Nigeria; and the ritual of sex and the rejuvenation of the love bond among married couples in the United States.

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About the author (2013)

William R. Jankowiak is professor of anthropology and ethnic studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He is the author (with Dan Bradburd) of Drugs, Labor, and Colonial Expansion, Urban Mongols: Ethnicity in Communist China, and Sex, Death, and Hierarchy in a Chinese City.


William Jankowiak is Professor of Anthropology & Ethnic Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He received his Ph.D. in Anthropology in 1986 from the University of California Santa Barbara. His research and teaching interests include ethnographic studies of contemporary Chinese society, especially Mongolian culture, as well as human universals such as love and family bonds. His publications include Urban Mongols: Ethnicity in Communist China (Prentice Hall, 1994); Sex, Death and Hierarchy in a Chinese City (CUP, 1993); and is editor of Romantic Passion: The Universal Experience (CUP 1995)