Niko Besnier

Niko Besnier is Professor of Cultural Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam and, in 2017–19, Research Professor, Department of Social Inquiry, La Trobe University Melbourne. From September 2018 to May 2019, he is a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University (CASBS).

He has previously taught at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1986–88), Yale University (1989–95), Victoria University of Wellington (1996–2002), and UCLA (2002–05). He has held visiting appointments or fellowships at the University of Hawai’i, École des hautes études en sciences sociales, the University of Auckland, Kagoshima University, Waseda University (twice), the University of Melbourne, École normal supérieure Paris, Université de Toulouse III Paul Sabatier, and the University of Manchester.

He was born in Algeria, and brought up in Spain and Britain. He is a citizen of the United States, New Zealand, and France. He has conducted extensive field research in the Pacific, principally on Nukulaelae Atoll, Tuvalu, where he has spent a total of four years since 1979, as well as Tonga, where he began fieldwork in 1977. He has also conducted field research in Japan and the United States. He obtaining a BA in Mathematics from the College of Creative Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara, an MA in linguistics from Stanford University in 1981, and a PhD in linguistics from the University of Southern California in 1986.

Niko Besnier’s research has received funding from the (U.S.) National Science Foundation (twice), the Marsden Fund of the Royal Society of New Zealand, the Wenner-Gren Foundation (twice), the Harry F. Guggenheim Foundation, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (three times), the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, and several local funds.

He currently is a member of the Scientific Steering Committee, Laboratoire d’excellence TransferS, École normale supérieure Paris; the Advisory Board of Insaniyyat: Palestinian Anthropological Society; the Executive Board of the American Ethnological Society; the Advisory Board, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network “Gender and Cultures of Equality” (GRACE); a member of the Advisory Board of SAPIENS: Anthropology, Everything Human; and the Advisory Board of the Amsterdam Research Centre for Gender and Sexuality. He has been a member of the Advisory Council of the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research (2008–2012); the Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association (2012–14); the Task Force on the American Anthropological Association’s Engagement with Israel-Palestine (2015); and the Executive Committee of the European Association of Social Anthropologists (2015-17).

He is editor-in-chief of American Ethnologist. He also serves on the editorial boards of a dozen journals in anthropology, gender & sexuality studies, and linguistics.

In 2012-17, Niko Besnier directed a project entitled “Globalization, Sports, and the Precarity of Masculinity,” with funding from the European Research Council. See the project website at GLOBALSPORT.

Contact information

Afdeling Antropologie
Universiteit van Amsterdam
Postbus 15509
1001 NA Amsterdam
The Netherlands

Telephone: +31 6 5254 8735

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