David Valentine

Photo of David Valentine

Contact Me


364 HHH Center

301 19th Ave S

I am a cultural and linguistic anthropologist with interests in gender, sexuality, US social movements and politics, and conceptions of the future. My first research project was an ethnographic investigation of the category "transgender" in the 1990s, where I examined how the emergence of this term enabled activists and others to imagine a new calibration of gender and sexuality vis a vis one another in order to work toward a more just world for gender variant individuals. However, in my book, I argue that this vision carries with it assumptions about gender and sexuality that reinforce racial and class hierarchies that, ironically, negatively impact the most vulnerable transgender-identified people -- young, poor, people of color. I continue this line of work with colleagues in the University's medical school doing online research with men who have sex with transgender men and women. My new major research project extends my interest in imagination and human futures by focusing on commercial outer space entrpreneurs where I am investigating the social consequences of imagining the human species transformed by permanent settlement off world. I have completed my research for this project (2009-2014) and am currently working on my book manuscript, tentatively titled "Leaving Earth."

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: Anthropology, New York University, NYC, NY, 2000.

Curriculum Vitae


  • Cultural and linguistic anthropology
  • social justice movements
  • gender and sexuality, queer theory
  • The idea of the future
  • commercial space exploration
Courses Taught
  • Anth 8810 -- Language and Modernity
  • Anth 8810 - Futures
  • Anth 8805 - Linguistic Anthropology
  • Anth 8203 - Research Methods in Social and Cultural Anthropology
  • Anth 5980 - Anthropology of Sexuality and Gender
  • Anth 4047 - Anthropology of American Culture
  • Anth 3005 - Language, Culture, and Power
  • Anth 1005 - Introduction to Cultural Diversity and the World System
Research & Professional Activities


  • Futures in (Commercial) Space: This project examines the shift toward space exploration led by private enterprise rather than by States. What kinds of futures are imagined by corporate actors, and how do such futures also enable a reimagining of Earth history?, In progress
  • "Admirers" and Identity: This project, in conjunction with the Program in Human Sexuality, examines the identities of men who have sex with transgender-identified people. The broader goal of my project is to examine the concept of identity itself as a trope., 2008 - 2009
  • Imagining Transgender: My research on the concept of transgender in the U.S. has been published as "Imagining Transgender: An Ethnography of a Category" (2007, Duke UP), September 1996 - To date
  • Gravity Fixes: Habituating to the Human on Mars and Island Three: Valentine, David, Hau: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, 7(3) 185–209, 2017. Link
  • Atmosphere: Context, Detachment, and the Modern Subject in Outer Space.: Valentine, David, American Ethnologist, 43(3) , 2016.
  • Relational Space: An Earthly Installation: Valentine, David, Debbora Battaglia and Valerie Olson, Cultural Anthropology, 30(3) 245-256., 2015. Download
  • Exit Strategy: Profit, Cosmology, and the Future of Humans in Space: Valentine, David, Anthropological Quarterly , 85(4) 1045-1067, 2012.
  • Extreme: Limits and Horizons in the Once and Future Cosmos. (Introduction to special issue): Valentine, David, Valerie Olson and Debbora Battaglia, Anthropological Quarterly, (85)4 1008-1026, 2012.
  • Sue E. Generous: Toward a Theory of Non-Transexuality: Valentine, David, Feminist Studies, 38(1) 185-211, 2012.
  • Imagining Transgender: An Ethnography of a Category. Valentine, David, Duke University Press, Author, 2007. Link
  • The categories themselves.: Valentine, David, GLQ, 10 215-220, 2004.
  • “The Calculus of Pain“: Violence, Anthropological Ethics, and the Category Transgender. Valentine, David, 2003.
  • “I went to bed with my own kind once“: The Erasure of Desire in the Name of Identity. Valentine, David, 2003.
  • Claire Goldberg Moses Award for the most theoretically innovative article published in Feminist Studies for " Sue E. Generous: Toward a Theory of Non-Transexuality"
  • Ruth Benedict Book Prize (SOLGA/AAA) for Imagining Transgender, 2007
  • Delmos Jones and Jagna Sharff Memorial Prize for the Critical Study of North America (Honorable Mention) for Imagining Transgender, 2008
  • Lambda Literary Award Finalist (Nonfiction Category) for Imagining Transgender, 2008