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Peter Sigal, Professor

Peter Sigal

Pete Sigal is professor of History and Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies at Duke University. His research and teaching focus on the history of sexuality, Latin American history, and the relationship between colonialism and sexual pleasure. He is author of The Flower and the Scorpion: Sexuality and Ritual in Early Nahua Culture (Duke University Press, 2011), a study on the interaction of writing and sexual representation in sixteenth and seventeenth-century indigenous Nahua societies of Mexico, which won the Erminie Wheeler Voegelin Award from the American Society of Ethnohistory, for the best book published in 2011. He is co-editor, with Zeb Tortorici and the late Neil Whitehead, of Ethnopornography: Sexuality, Colonialism and Archival Knowledge (Duke University Press, 2020), a wide-ranging study of the relationships between the colonial and ethnographic gaze and sexuality throughout the world. He is completing a study of colonialism and sexual desire, “Sustaining Sexual Pleasure: Colonial Erotics, Racialized Sexuality, and Ecstatic Resistance,” in which he examines artistic reimaginings of the history of sexuality by engaging with the works of queer Black, Latinx, and Indigenous artists who work to decolonize desire through acts that Sigal terms “ecstatic resistance.” In such resistance, the artists build an alternative notion of ecstasy that allows us to reconsider the history of sexuality.

His teaching includes an interdisciplinary first year seminar on sexuality around the world, an undergraduate lecture course, Sexual Pleasure in the Modern World that is often touted as one of the "must take" courses at Duke, an undergraduate lecture on Aztecs and Mayans, an advanced seminar on the history of sexuality, open to undergraduate and graduate students, and graduate seminars on various topics and approaches to history.

Sigal has moved from studying sexual desires in indigenous communities to examining the colonial cultural processes that create global concepts of modern sexuality, race, gender, masculinity, and femininity. Sigal also is author of From Moon Goddesses to Virgins: The Colonization of Yucatecan Maya Sexual Desire (University of Texas Press, 2000), and editor of Infamous Desire: Male Homosexuality in Colonial Latin America (University of Chicago Press, 2003).

Contact Info:
Office Location:  234 Classroom Building, Durham, NC 27708
Office Phone:  +1 919 684 3014
Email Address: send me a message

Teaching (Fall 2024):

  • HOUSECS 59.33, HOUSE COURSE (SP TOP) Synopsis
    Reuben-Coo 127, M 07:00 PM-08:30 PM
  • HISTORY 370.01, AZTECS AND MAYANS Synopsis
    Old Chem 101, TuTh 11:45 AM-01:00 PM
    (also cross-listed as MEDREN 270.01)
Education:

Ph.D.University of California, Los Angeles1995
M.A.University of California, Los Angeles1992
B.A.Bucknell University1986
Specialties:

Comparative Colonial Studies
Gender
Military History
Medieval and Early Modern History
Global Transnational History
Cultural History
Global and Comparative
Latin America and the Caribbean
Research Interests:

The relationships between gender, sexuality, and colonialism have intrigued me since I began my first book on Maya sexuality. I recently completed a study on the interaction of writing and sexual representation in sixteenth and seventeenth-century Nahua societies--The Flower and the Scorpion: Sexuality and Ritual in Early Nahua Culture (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011); I am currently co-editing with Neil Whitehead a volume on “ethnopornography,” the relationship between the colonial and ethnographic gaze and sexuality throughout the world; and engaging in research on the position of the hyper-masculinized Aztec warrior in early modern literature from Europe and the Americas. I have moved from studying sexual desires in indigenous communities to examining the early modern cultural processes that created global concepts of modern sexuality, gender, masculinity, and femininity.

Areas of Interest:

Colonial Latin America
Indigenous Peoples of Latin America
The History of Sexuality

Keywords:

Anthropology • Cross-Cultural Comparison • Gender • Historiography • History, 16th Century • History, 17th Century • History, 18th Century • History, 19th Century • History, 20th Century • Internationality • Language • Latin America • Men's Health • queer theory • Queer Theory • Religion • Sexual Behavior • Sexuality • Social Change • Women's Health

Current Ph.D. Students  

  • Farren Yero  
  • Priya D. Shah  
  • Caroline Garriott  
Representative Publications   (More Publications)

  1. Sigal, P, The Flower and the Scorpion: Sexuality and Ritual in Early Nahua Culture, Latin America Otherwise (2011), pp. 1-361, Duke University Press, ISBN 9780822351511 [ViewProduct.php]  [abs]
  2. Sigal, P, Imagining Cihuacoatl: Mexica Masculinity and Spanish Colonization, Gender & History, vol. 22 no. 3 (November, 2010), pp. 538-563, WILEY (Republished in Historicising Gender and Sexuality. Kevin P. Murphy and Jennifer M. Spear, eds. West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.) [doi]  [abs]
  3. Sigal, P, Latin America and the challenge of globalizing the history of sexuality., The American historical review, vol. 114 no. 5 (December, 2009), pp. 1340-1353, Oxford University Press (OUP), ISSN 0002-8762 [20425925], [doi]
  4. Sigal, P, Queer Nahuatl: Sahagún's faggots and sodomites, lesbians and hermaphrodites, Ethnohistory, vol. 54 no. 1 (December, 2007), pp. 9-34, Duke University Press, ISSN 0014-1801 (Republished in Indigenous Religions. Steven Hunt, ed. London: Ashgate, 2010.) [Gateway.cgi], [doi]  [abs]
  5. Sigal, P, Sexual Encounters/Sexual Collisions: Alternative Sexualities in Colonial Mesoamerica, edited by Sigal, P; Chuchiak, J, Ethnohistory, vol. 54 no. 1 (January, 2007)
  6. Sigal, P, The Cuiloni, the Patlache, and the Abominable Sin: Homosexualities in Early Colonial Nahua Society, Hispanic American Historical Review, vol. 85 no. 4 (November, 2005), pp. 555-593, Duke University Press, ISSN 0018-2168 [Gateway.cgi], [doi]
  7. Sigal, P, Infamous Desire: Male Homosexuality in Colonial Latin America (2003), University of Chicago Press [html]
  8. Sigal, P, To Cross the Sexual Borderlands: The History of Sexuality in the Americas, Radical History Review, vol. 82 (2002), pp. 171-185 [repository]
  9. Sigal, P, Gender, male homosexuality, and power in colonial Yucatán, Latin American Perspectives, vol. 29 no. 2 (January, 2002), pp. 24-40, SAGE Publications, ISSN 0094-582X [Gateway.cgi], [doi]  [abs]
  10. Sigal, P, From Moon Goddesses to Virgins: The Colonization of Yucatecan Maya Sexual Desire (2000), University of Texas Press [sigfro]


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