Casey James Miller, Ph.D. Envelope

Assistant Professor of Anthropology


B.A. Philosophy, Politics and Economics, Magdalen College, University of Oxford, 2004
A.M. Regional Studies–East Asia, Harvard University, 2006
Ph.D. Anthropology, Brandeis University, 2013

Personal Website: 

Teaching Interests:

Anthropology is the study of the human experience in all its diversity. It plays a crucial role in the undergraduate liberal arts setting by empowering students to think more critically about themselves through learning about other cultures. To this end, I offer a range of introductory and advanced cultural anthropology courses on topics including gender and sexuality, queer anthropology, medicine and health, and Chinese culture and society.

As a teacher-scholar of cultural anthropology, my primary goal is to share the rewards and insights of the anthropological perspective with students from a wide range of backgrounds and interests, regardless of whether they go on to major or minor in anthropology. I also encourage students to develop their anthropological skills outside of the classroom by collecting their own original ethnographic data. For example, in my cultural anthropology course, I have students observe gift-giving or ritualistic behaviors and interview subjects concerning their family and kinship systems or beliefs about personhood and the body. Students then select some of the original data they have collected to analyze and present in an essay.

Because cultural anthropology is a discipline that has one foot each in the humanities and social sciences, I also incorporate a variety of interdisciplinary texts and perspectives in my teaching. For example, in my Queer China course, I have students read and write about a variety of fictional texts, including poetry, short stories, novels, autobiography, and films, alongside more traditional anthropological ethnographies.

Research, Scholarship or Creative/Artistic Interests:

My research examines the intersections of gender, sexuality, health, and civil society in postsocialist urban China. My first book project, Inside the Circle: Queer Culture and Activism in Northwest China, is an ethnography of Chinese LGBT/Queer (tongzhi 同志) culture, health and community-based AIDS activism in China’s northwest region. Data for this project were collected over 18 months of fieldwork in urban northwest China from 2007–2019 involving over 70 people from local queer communities, civil society organizations and government agencies. This work was supported by a Fulbright fellowship and a grant from the National Science Foundation.

My research reveals how, despite the harm that it is causing, HIV/AIDS has also had positive effects on urban Chinese LGBT/Queer communities, serving as a rallying point for community organization, cultural production and queer kinship. My research shows that queer Chinese men are using their response to the AIDS epidemic to resist their exclusion from the institutions of family and state and to form new networks of kinship and care.

I am also working on two new projects. One examines “homo-wives” (tongqi 同妻), Chinese women who are married to closeted gay men and face challenges including unfulfilling marriages, domestic abuse and increased risk of exposure to HIV. My other new project focuses on PFLAG China (zhongguo tongxinglian qinyouhui 中国同性恋亲友会), the largest Chinese queer NGO, which works to help more queer people in China live openly and also to encourage more Chinese parents and families to embrace and support their queer children.

Selected Publications and Presentations:

Liu Xiaobo vs. Mr. Gay World: Queer Activism and Ethnographic Coincidence in Northwest Postsocialist China, American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, Vancouver, (November 22, 2019).

We Are All Inside the Circle: Toward a Hybrid Chinese/Queer Theory, American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, San Jose, (November 14, 2018).

Selfishness or Self-Sacrifice? Sham Marriages,” Queer Kinship, and Individualization in China, American Ethnological Society, Philadelphia, (March 24, 2018).

Over the Rainbow: Queer Circulations, Meanings, and Uses of the Rainbow Flag in China, International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) and Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA), (Ottawa, May 6, 2017).

Love Doesn’t Last a Lifetime: Love, Marriage, and Family among Queer Men in Postsocialist Urban China, Population Association of America, (Chicago, April 27, 2017).

Miller, Casey James. Dying for Money: The Effects of Global Health Initiatives on NGOs Working with MSM and HIV/AIDS in Northwest China, Medical Anthropology Quarterly 30(3):414–430. (2016).

Miller, Casey James. We Can Only Be Healthy if We Love Ourselves: Queer AIDS NGOs, Kinship, and Alternative Families of Care in China, AIDS Care 28(sup4):51–60. (2016).

Queering Chinese Kinship Studies: Love, Marriage, and Family among Gay Men in Urban China, Population Studies & Training Center, Brown University, (October 20, 2016).

There’s a Demon in My Heart: Neoliberalism, Global Health Initiatives, and Alienation within a Chinese Community-Based Gay Men’s Health Organization, American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, Denver, (November 22, 2015).

A View from Inside the Circle: Complicating Understandings of Contemporary China by Studying Queer Culture, Community, and Activism. Division of Social Sciences, Yale-NUS College, Singapore, (January 12, 2015).

There Will Only Be Progress When There Is Competition: HIV/AIDS, Foreign Funding, and the Promotion of Precariousness among Chinese Gay Men’s Community Health Organizations, American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C.,(December 6, 2014).