Niko Besnier is Professor of Cultural Anthropology in the Department of Sociology & Anthropology of the University of Amsterdam. He has also 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, University of Auckland, Kagoshima University, Waseda University (twice), and the University of Melbourne.
He was born in Algeria, and brought up in Spain and Britain. He is a citizen of the U.S., 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, shortly after obtaining a BA in Mathematics from the College of Creative Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He obtained a PhD from the University of Southern California in 1986, and an MA from Stanford University in 1981.
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 was a member of the Advisory Council of the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research (2008–2012) and the Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association as well as various committees of this association (2012–14). He currently is a member of the Scientific Steering Committee, Laboratoire d’excellence TransferS, École normale supérieure Paris, a member of the AAA’s Task Force in Israel-Palestine, and a member of Executive Committee of the European Association of Social Anthropologists. He serves on the editorial boards of a dozen journals in anthropology, gender & sexuality studies, and linguistics.
In 2011, Niko Besnier was awarded a 5-year Advanced Grant from the European Research Council for a project entitled “Globalization, Sports, and the Precarity of Masculinity.” This project began in September 2012, and involves four PhD students and two postdoctoral fellows, who began work in September 2013. See the project website at GLOBALSPORT.
Niko Besnier is editor-in-chief of American Ethnologist.