Niko Besnier is Professor of Cultural Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam and Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Social Inquiry at La Trobe University, Melbourne. From August 2019 to August 2020, he will be Research Director at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies.
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, University of Auckland, Kagoshima University, Waseda University (twice), University of Melbourne, École normal supérieure Paris, Université de Toulouse III Paul Sabatier, University of Manchester, La Trobe University Melbourne, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University
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 is currently a member of the Advisory Board, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network “Gender and Cultures of Equality” (GRACE); the Advisory Board of Insaniyyat: Palestinian Anthropological Society; and the Scientific Advisory Board of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. He has been a member of the Scientific Steering Committee, Laboratoire d’excellence TransferS, École normale supérieure Paris (2011–18); the Advisory Board of SAPIENS: Anthropology, Everything Human (2017–18); the Advisory Board of the Amsterdam Research Centre for Gender and Sexuality (2008–17); the Advisory Council of the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research (2008–12); the Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association (2012–14); the Task Force on the American Anthropological Association’s Engagement with Israel-Palestine (2015); the Executive Committee of the European Association of Social Anthropologists (2015–17); and the Executive Board of the American Ethnological Society (2016–19).
He was editor-in-chief of American Ethnologist from 2016 to 2019 (editing all issues to the end of 2019). He currently serves on the editorial boards of a dozen journals in anthropology, gender & sexuality studies, and linguistics.
Universiteit van Amsterdam
1001 NA Amsterdam