Joseph M. Carrier, a social anthropologist whose pioneering study of same-sex relations between men in Mexico was the beginning of serious ethnographic research on human sexual behaviors, died on Saturday, November 28, at his home in Pacific Palisades. He was 92 years old.
He led a remarkably adventurous life. While an undergraduate student at the University of Miami, he traveled to Cuba in 1948 and Mexico in 1949.
After two years of active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps (1950-52) at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, he attended Purdue University and received a master’s degree in economics in June 1953. He then spent a year in India on a Fulbright grant.
From India he traveled through the Middle East and Europe enroute to his home in Miami, Florida. In 1956 he moved to California where he worked 12 years at RAND Corporation in Santa Monica. During his last six years at RAND (1962-69) he worked on counterinsurgency projects dealing with the war in South Vietnam. He spent two and a half years living in South Vietnam on RAND projects.
At the age of 40 he changed careers, and while a graduate student at the University of California, Irvine (1967-72), he became an anthropologist and a researcher on human sexual behaviors. He was the first graduate student in anthropology to study male homosexuality. He did his fieldwork in Guadalajara, Mexico, from the fall of 1969 to the spring of 1971, and continued his ethnographic research up to the present time.
Columbia University Press published his Ph.D. dissertation as a book in 1995: “De Los Otros: Intimacy and Homosexuality Among Mexican Men.” He became a respected authority in the cultural study of male homosexuality. He published a Spanish edition of his book in Mexico in 2003.
His first job after receiving a Ph.D. in 1972 was with the National Academy of Sciences Committee on the Effects of Herbicides in Vietnam, and he returned to work in South Vietnam for the committee in 1972-73.
Carrier made his first trip to Hanoi in 1994. He did volunteer work there with North Vietnamese professors doing research on the HIV/AIDS epidemic. He continued this work, and traveled extensively in Southeast Asia and India until 2006.
At the age of 80 his life took a dramatic turn when he began a collaboration with Danish Vietnamese artist Danh Vo. They traveled together to the Central Highlands of South Vietnam, making contact with a tribal family that continued up to the time of his death. Some of the details of his study of what happened to the tribal people following the Communist takeover of Vietnam in 1975 are included in his last book that he published in August 2016, “A Life of Adventures with Serendipity: An Autobiography.”
Joe’s cousin, Marion Lund, and her sons, Kevin and Sean Berne, aided long-time friend Carolee Mann in caregiving for Joe this last year, enabling him to remain in his home until the end. Joe’s family also includes many second and third cousins, and two foster sons: Sorm Sarou in Siem Reap, Cambodia, and Jose Moreno in Guadalajara, Mexico. Donations are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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