Brian A. Horton

I am an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Brandeis University (Waltham, MA), where I am also affiliated with the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, the Department of African and African American Studies, and the South Asian Studies Program, which I am chairing from 2021 – 2024. I write, research, and teach about LGBTQ+ culture and politics in the Global South, with a particular focus on India and the emergence of queer publics for love, sex, and intimacy. Central to this work is an interest in how vulnerable and precarious people build social worlds in the thresholds between pleasure and violence. My current academic monograph Shimmers of the Fabulous: Intimate Touch and Public Sex in Queer and Trans Bombay builds on these interests by exploring queer sexpublics, or semi-public sites for the flourishing of love, sex, and intimacy among LGBTQ+ residents of Bombay.

My next two projects continue my ongoing interests in ethnographically exploring the spaces between pleasure and violence. Cannibalizing Race: Screening (Anti) Blackness in India continues my research work in India by examining how waves of migrants from Africa to urban India (Delhi, Bombay, and Bangalore) produce new meanings around race, racism, and anti-Blackness in India. In examining rumors of cannibalism, gossip around sex work, viral videos of Anti-Black violence, and the  complex ways Black folks navigate social space, this project intersects my interests in queer critique and Black studies to examine the global travels of Black bodies in an anti-Black world. My third project, Head Rush: Alkyl Nitrates and the Euphoria of Toxic Masculinity, is an ethnography of poppers as a commodity as well as technology of masculinity. Moving between the sites of their production, sale, and consumption, this project considers how poppers (particularly as the inhalant amyl nitrate) are a crucial, pleasurable, and toxic ingredient in the making of gay masculinities in US Queer nightlife.

I have written for a wide variety of audiences and publish in academic journals, edited collections, zines, and popular magazines. My writing has appeared  in venues such as Sexualities, South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, Queer Nightlife (the 2021 Lambda Literary Award finalist for best LGBTQ+ Anthology), Gaysi Zine, and Grazia India. See my writing page to explore my writings. Building on my writing, I also teach courses on topics such as Queer Anthropology/Queer Theory, Digital Cultures, Critical Theories of Power and Violence, and Queer Performance. Check out my teaching page to peruse my syllabi.

My research and writing have been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship Program, the Fulbright-Nehru Research Fellowship, the Social Science Research Council’s International Dissertation Research Fellowship, the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship and internal grants at Brandeis University and Brown University, such as the Theodore and Jane Norman Fellowship, the Brown Center for Contemporary South Asia Fellowship Program, and the Watson Institute for International Studies’s NSF/IGERT Program in Development and Inequality in the Global South.

I completed my PhD in Anthropology from Brown University in 2019. I also hold an MA in Anthropology (Brown 2014) and a Bachelor’s Degree in French, Geography, and Political Science (summa cum laude with highest honors in honors studies) from Texas Tech University.