Michael Pierson

michael pierson

DPhil Student

Wolfson College

My proposed research focuses on Tanzanian austerity politics, the policing of non-normative sexualities, and queer world building in Dar es Salaam. My project asks how recent political and economic shifts, and a concomitant crescendo of state-endorsed homophobia, (re)produce national fantasies and discourses, as well as affect the material and imaginary resources that support queer lives and intimate networks. I approach these issues with attention to cultural politics and sex panics which have informed nation building projects in Tanzania since the colonial era to better understand contemporary sexual governmentality and the complex processes that shape the sexual commons.

This project is inspired by my previous anthropological engagements. My undergraduate fieldwork and writing explored media privatization in Tanzania, commodification in the hip hop industry, and artists' "swag" as a form of embodied political rage. My Master's ethnographic work considered how episodes of public intimacy in a queer-centric Chicago performance event composed and patterned social behaviors that entailed contexts alternative to everyday experiences of ordinariness and abjection. Before arriving at Oxford, I was researching, working, and living in Dar es Salaam for nearly two years, which led me to my current project as well.

Research Interests: Urban Ethnography, African Political Economies, Sexuality/Gender Studies, Queer Theory,   Nationalism, Postcolonial Studies.

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