Prof. Dr. George-Paul Meiu
George-Paul Meiu
Philosophisch-Historische Fakultät
Departement Gesellschaftswissenschaften
Professur Meiu


Ethnologisches Seminar
Münsterplatz 19
4051 Basel

Tel. +41 61 207 27 40

George Paul Meiu is Professor of Anthropology and Chair of the Institute of Social Anthropology at the University of Basel. He is Associate in Anthropology and African and African American Studies at Harvard University, where, until 2022, he has been a tenured, full professor. Meiu’s research and teaching focus on sexuality, gender, and kinship; ethnicity, belonging and citizenship; mobility, memory, and materiality; and the political economy of postcolonial East Africa and postsocialist Eastern Europe.

Meiu is author of Ethno-erotic Economies: Sexuality, Money, and Belonging in Kenya (University of Chicago Press, 2017), a book that won the Ruth Benedict Prize and the Nelson Graburn Prize of the American Anthropological Association. Combining ethnographic and historical methods, the book explores how the tourist commodification of ethnic sexuality shapes belonging and relations of age, gender, and kinship in postcolonial Kenya.

In his forthcoming book, Queer Objects to the Rescue: Intimacy and Citizenship in Kenya, Meiu explores new ways of thinking homophobia and rampant violence against queer people by taking as a point of departure objects whose poetic deployment in rumor, political rhetoric, and everyday life constitutes the homosexual body as an imaginary target of repudiation.

Meiu is coeditor of Ethnicity, Commodity, In/Corporation (Indiana University Press, 2020), a book that examines the growing global entanglements of ethnicity in market dynamics, nationalism, and consumption. He is also author of the Romanian-language monograph Vin feciorii cu turca! Schimbări semiologice în obiceiurile cetei de feciori din Comăna (Arania, 2004), a historical ethnography of a youths’ ritual in southeastern Transylvania, Romania, that has been pivotal to nationalist, communist, and post-socialist political imaginaries.

His work appeared the American Anthropologist, American Ethnologist, Cultural Anthropology, Ethnos, HAU, and Anthropology Today and in edited volumes on tourism, bodies, sexuality, futures, and the history of anthropology.

Meiu holds a BA in anthropology from Concordia University in Montreal and an MA and PhD from the University of Chicago, where he won the Daniel F. Nugent Prize for the best dissertation in historical anthropology.

  • Sexuality, intimacy, kinship
  • Ethnicity, belonging, citizenship
  • Commodity, money, political economy
  • Mobility, memory, materiality
  • East Africa
  • Eastern Europe

Meiu, George Paul. 2022. “Queer Futures, National Utopias: Notes on Objects, Intimacy, Time, and the State.” African Futures, edited by Clemens Greiner, Steven Van Wolputte, and Michael Bollig, 320-330. Leiden: Brill.

Meiu, George Paul. 2020. “Underlayers of Citizenship: Queer Objects, Intimate Exposures, and the Rescue Rush in Kenya.” Cultural Anthropology, 35(4): 575-601.

Meiu, George Paul. 2020. “Queerly Kenyan: On the Political Economy of Queer Possibilities.” HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, 10(2): 613-617.

Meiu, George Paul. 2020. “Panics over Plastics: A Matter of Belonging in Kenya.” American Anthropologist, no. 122(2): 222-235.

Meiu, George Paul (with Jean Comaroff and John L. Comaroff). 2020. “Introduction: Ethnicity, Inc. Revisited.” Ethnicity, Commodity, In/Corporation, edited by George Paul Meiu, Jean Comaroff, and John L. Comaroff, 1-35. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Meiu, George Paul. 2020. “On Branding, Belonging, and the Violence of a Phallic Imaginary: Maasai Warriors in Kenyan Tourism.” Ethnicity, Commodity, In/Corporation, edited by George Paul Meiu, Jean Comaroff, and John L. Comaroff, 35-66. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Meiu, George Paul. 2019. “Who Are the New Natives? Ethnicity and Emerging Idioms of Belonging in Africa.” A Companion to the Anthropology of Africa, edited by R. Grinker, E. F. Gonçalves, C. B. Steiner, and S. Lubkemann, 147-172. Oxford: Wiley.

Meiu, George Paul. 2017. Ethno-erotic Economies: Sexuality, Money, and Belonging in Kenya. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Meiu, George Paul. 2016. “Belonging in Ethno-erotic Economies: Adultery, Alterity, and Ritual in Postcolonial Kenya.” American Ethnologist 43 (2): 215-229.

Meiu, George Paul. 2015. “Colonialism and Sexuality.” The International Encyclopedia of Human Sexuality (Volume 1), edited by Patricia Whelehan and Anne Bolin, 239-242. Malden, Oxford: Wiley.

Meiu, George Paul. 2015. “Beach-Boy Elders and Young Big-Men: Subverting the Temporalities of Ageing in Kenya's Ethno-Erotic Economies.” Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology 80 (4): 472-496.

Meiu, George Paul. 2011. “On Difference, Desire, and the Aesthetics of the Unexpected: 'The White Masai' in Kenyan Tourism.” Great Expectations: Imagination and Anticipation in Tourism, edited by Jonathan Skinner and Dimitrios Theodossopoulos, 96-115. Oxford: Berghahn Books.

Meiu, George Paul. 2009. “Mombasa Morans: Embodiment, Sexual Morality, and Samburu Men in Kenya.” Canadian Journal of African Studies 43 (1): 105-128. 

Meiu, George Paul. 2008. “Riefenstahl on Safari: Embodied Contemplation in East Africa.” Anthropology Today 24 (2): 18-22.