Weston, Kath 1958-
Weston, Kath 1958-
(Kathleen M. Weston)
CAREER: University of Minnesota—Twin Cities, Minneapolis, fellow at Center for Advanced Feminist Studies, 1989–90; Arizona State University, West Campus, Phoenix, began as assistant professor, became associate professor of anthropology, 1990–98; Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, director of studies on women, gender, and sexuality, 2001–. Speaker at national conferences, colloquia, and workshops.
MEMBER: National Writers Union.
AWARDS, HONORS: Fellow of National Science Foundation, 1980–83, 1985–87, American Association of University Women, 1985–86, and Rockefeller Foundation, 1989–90; Ruth Benedict Prize, 1991, for Families We Choose, and 1997, for Render Me, Gender Me.
Long Slow Burn: Sexuality and Social Science, Rout-ledge (New York, NY), 1998.
Gender in Real Time: Power and Transience in a Visual Age, Routledge (New York, NY), 2002.
Traveling Light: On the Road with America's Poor, Beacon Press (Boston, MA), in press.
SIDELIGHTS: The interviews that Kath Weston includes in her studies of the lesbian and gay community provide an insight into the anthropology of an often marginalized group. By analyzing the concept of kinship among lesbian and gay families, Weston was praised for her first book, Families We Choose: Lesbians, Gays, Kinship. Weston has also explored the intersection of issues such as race, class, and gender among lesbians in her book Render Me, Gender Me: Lesbians Talk Sex, Class, Color, Nation, Studmuffins.
Writing in American Anthropologist, Anne Bolin called Families We Choose a "provocative kinship analysis of lesbian and gay families. It is clear that [Weston] is in the vanguard of a new and surprising anthropology…. Her theoretical perspective and research methodology are carefully woven with personal reflections from her field notes." Bolin described Families We Choose as an "exemplary book" that deals with "the cultural ping-pong of biocentrism" and "with the hidden agenda of heterocentrism in the historical changes in the scientific discourse on homosexuality."
"Families We Choose is the first book to analyze the historical conditions, social meaning, and political implications of lesbians and gays' appropriating the language of kinship," wrote Steven Seidman in Contemporary Sociology. Weston "captures much of the historical and social impulses behind current gay family politics" through the use of eighty interviews, and includes "excellent chapters" on such topics as "coming out" and "blood" relatives, Seidman added.
In Families We Choose, Weston carefully distinguishes the unique ways with which lesbians and gays create families that build upon conventional forms of kinship, sometimes in surprising ways. These "constructions of kinship emerge as both creative ventures in culture building and as deeply embedded in existing meanings," noted Ellen Lewin in American Ethnologist. "What is most provocative, perhaps, about this work is the underlying question it raises about people as active creators of culture." Lewin observed that Weston "is careful to remind us that gay families are fluid, built out of friendship, but not the same as friendships." Lewin concluded that "Weston's ability to present this level of analysis while maintaining her credibility as an insider in the community is perhaps her most impressive achievement"; she added, "The flexible system of meanings and expectations that is kinship emerge as the true protagonist of this volume."
According to Lisa Moore in the Women's Review of Books, Weston describes Render Me, Gender Me as "a book of personal narratives designed to complicate contemporary discussions of gender." This collection displays interviews titled "A Carload of Teenagers Screaming 'Dyke' at You" and "I Never Knew There Were Femme Lesbians." Moore noted that "the book's most complex theoretical statements … are spoken by the narrators." "Despite being low on theory and analysis," Render Me, Gender Me, an assortment of interviews with forty diverse lesbians, displays "witty, lyrical writing" that is "enjoyable for the lay reader," according to Jerilyn R. Veldof, writing in the Library Journal.
A collection of essays published between 1984 and 1997, Long Slow Burn: Sexuality and Social Science, involves issues such as kinship and gay migration to San Francisco. Reviewer Debra Moore wrote in Library Journal that Weston claims that "sexuality should not be a ghettoized area of study"; instead, sexuality should be examined "in relation to work, migration, family," and other related topics.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Anthropologist, December, 1992, Anne Bolin, review of Families We Choose: Lesbians, Gays, Kinship, pp. 947-948.
American Ethnologist, November, 1992, Ellen Lewin, review of Families We Choose, pp. 825-826; August, 1999, Stephanie C. Kane, review of Long Slow Burn: Sexuality and Social Science, p. 766.
American Journal of Sociology, September, 1993, Beth E. Schneider, review of Families We Choose, p. 540; September, 1999, Patricia Ticineto Clough, review of Long Slow Burn, p. 558.
Archives of Sexual Behavior, October, 1997, Miriam Kaufman, review of Families We Choose, p. 568.
Choice, November, 1991, review of Families We Choose, p. 528; April, 1999, F.P. Conant, review of Long Slow Burn, p. 1500.
Contemporary Psychology, January, 1995, review of Families We Choose, p. 50.
Contemporary Sociology, March, 1993, Steven Seidman, review of Families We Choose, pp. 230-231; July, 2003, review of Gender in Real Time: Power and Transcience in a Visual Age, p. 542.
Current Anthropology, February, 2005, review by Jacquelyne Luce, p. 150.
Family Relations, July, 1993, review of Families We Choose, p. 349.
Gender and Society, September, 1994, Christine M. Robinson, review of Families We Choose, p. 470.
Journal of American Studies, April, 1994, S.J. Klein-berg, review of Families We Choose, p. 92.
Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, April, 1993, Phyllis L. Baker, review of Families We Choose, p. 121.
Journal of Sex Research, May, 1993, Joseph P. Goodwin, review of Families We Choose, p. 185.
Lambda Book Report, July, 1991, review of Families We Choose, p. 37; May, 1992, review of Families We Choose, p. 43; March, 1997, Janine Ricouart, review of Render Me, Gender Me: Lesbians Talk Sex, Class, Color, Nation, Studmuffyns, p. 15.
Library Journal, April 1, 1991, Eric Bryant, review of Families We Choose, p. 126; February 1, 1997, Jerilyn R. Veldof, review of Render Me, Gender Me, p. 98; October 1, 1998, Debra Moore, review of Long Slow Burn, p. 122.
MultiCultural Review, April, 1992, review of Families We Choose, p. 87.
New Directions for Women, May, 1992, review of Families We Choose, p. 22.
NWSA Journal, spring, 2000, Darcy C. Plymire, review of Render Me, Gender Me, p. 174.
Out/Look, winter, 1992, review of Families We Choose, p. 82.
Reviews in Anthropology (annual), 1992, review of Families We Choose, p. 85.
Sex Roles: Journal of Research, July, 1999, Bernice Lott, review of Long Slow Burn, p. 115.
Signs, summer, 1993, review of Families We Choose, p. 974.
University Press Book News, September, 1991, review of Families We Choose, p. 18.
Women's Review of Books, June, 1992, Rebecca Gordon, review of Families We Choose, p. 17; December, 1996, Lisa Moore, review of Render Me, Gender Me, pp. 10-11.
Women's Studies International Forum, May-June, 2003, Kathleen S. Gine-Dare, review of Gender in Real Time, p. 281.