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Melissa Hackman Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Melissa Hackman is a socio-cultural anthropologist who conducts research in South Africa. She received a BA in Women's Studies from Temple University (2000), a Masters of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School (2002), and a PhD in Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Cruz (2011).

research statement

Dr. Hackman's work examines transformations in gender and sexual norms, practices, and subjectivities in the post-apartheid period. Her first project was an ethnography of a Pentecostal "ex-gay" and sexual addiction ministry in Cape Town, Africa's "gay capital." Ex-gays believe that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian values and theology and that they can heal their same-sex desires through spiritual, therapeutic, and bodily discipline and performance. Dr. Hackman is currently working on a book manuscript based on this work entitled Born Again Masculinity: "Ex-Gay" and Pentecostal Identities in Post-Apartheid South Africa. Her second project examines women's sexual pleasure in contemporary South Africa, specifically how black, coloured, and white middle-class South African women are transforming dominant conversations about sex and intimate relationships. She intends to trace the ways that sexual desire is politicized and if a focus on sexual pleasure in women's personal lives helps them create new positions in the democratic nation.