Niko Besnier

Niko Besnier is a socio-cultural and linguistic anthropologist. He is currently Adjunct Professor in the Department of Social Inquiry at La Trobe University, Melbourne.

He has previously taught at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1986–88), Yale University (1989–95), Victoria University of Wellington (1996–2002), UCLA (2002–05), and the University of Amsterdam (2005–22). He has held visiting appointments and fellowships at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, 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, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, Universidad de la República Montevideo, and Charles University Prague.

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, the European Research Council, and several local funds.

He is currently a member of the Advisory Board of Insaniyyat: Palestinian Anthropological Society (since 2017); the Review Panel on Media & Communication Studies, Political Science, Social Work, Social & Cultural Anthropology, and Sociology, Research Foundation Flanders (since 2023); and the Review Panel, Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research (since 2023). He serves on the editorial boards of a dozen journals and book series in anthropology, gender & sexuality studies, Pacific Island studies, sport studies, and linguistics. He regularly conducts workshops about how to write publishable articles and successful grant proposals.

He has been a member of the Advisory Council of the Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research (2008–12); the Advisory Board of the Amsterdam Research Centre for Gender and Sexuality (2008–17); the Scientific Steering Committee, Laboratoire d’excellence TransferS, École normale supérieure Paris (2011–18); 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); the Executive Board of the American Ethnological Society (2016–19); the Advisory Board of SAPIENS: Anthropology, Everything Human (2017–18); the Scientific Advisory Board of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (2018–22); and the Task Force on Rethinking Annual Meetings, American Anthropological Association (2021–22).

From 2016 to 2019, he was editor-in-chief of American Ethnologist. His first editorial article can be found here and his last editorial article can be found here. An article about how to write for major anthropology journals, co-authored with Pablo Morales, can be found here.

In 2012–17, Niko Besnier directed a project titled “Globalization, Sports, and the Precarity of Masculinity,” funded by the European Research Council. See the project website at GLOBALSPORT.

Contact information

Telephone: +31 6 4463 9841, +1 760 808 7849, +90 534 495 5267

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