William Jankowiak

Professor of Anthropology
Expertise: Chinese Family, Chinese Ethnicity, Polygamous Communities, Love and Intimacy


William Jankowiak is an internationally recognized authority on urban Chinese society, urban Mongols, Mormon fundamentalist polygyny, and love around the world.

Jankowiak is often invited to present the results of his research as well called on by media to provide background information on various topics. His research has been featured in numerous media outlets, including The New York Times, Time magazine, NPR, History Channel, TLC, ABC Primetime, and NBC.

Jankowiak has authored over 115 academic and professional publications. He is the author of Sex, Death, and Hierarchy in a Chinese City: An Anthropological Account (Columbia University, 1993);  editor of Romantic Passion: A Universal Experience? (Columbia University, 1995), and Intimacies: Between Love and Sex (Columbia University, 2008); and (with Dan Bradburd) Stimulating Trade: Drugs, Labor and Expansion (Arizona University, 2003).

In addition, he has edited two special journal volumes: Well Being, Family Affections, and Ethical Nationalism in Urban China (Journal of Urban Anthropology), (with Jiemin Bao) Polygynous Society: Ethnographic Overviews from Five Cultures, and a book-length overview (with Robert Moore) on the Chinese family (Polity Press). His current writing projects include completing City Days, City Nights: The Individual and Social Life in a Chinese City: 1981-2011 (Columbia University Press). Presently, he is completing an ethnography of a Mormon Fundamentalist polygamous community (Columbia University Press).


  • Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara

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William Jankowiak In The News

Is deep kissing a universal human behavior?
A new study finds that half of human cultures don’t practice romantic lip-on-lip kissing. Animals don’t tend to bother either. So how did it evolve?
Popular Science
Humans are born with instincts for crying and smiling, but not for kissing. Sometime in the past, our ancestors had the idea to smack their mouths together and call it romantic. And though we may not know who gave the first smooch, ancient records of these steamy sessions are helping us piece together when people started locking lips.
Washington Post
When was the first kiss? Recent papers have suggested that romantic or sexual kissing began 3,500 years ago in what is now India. But a new review paper in the journal Science says that this style of kissing is also mentioned in clay tablets from Mesopotamia that predate the Indian texts by about a thousand years.

Articles Featuring William Jankowiak

Graduation surprise
Campus News | August 1, 2023

News stories from the summer featuring UNLV students and faculty.

Representatives from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians wrap UNLV Marta Meana in a blanket as part of the tribe's gift announcement to the university.
Campus News | March 5, 2020

A collection of news stories from February highlighting the people and research of UNLV.