Dr. Alex J. Nelson


Ph.D. 2020 University of Nevada, Las Vegas
M.A. 2014 University of Nevada, Las Vegas
B.A. 2009 University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Areas of Research:

Psychological anthropology, gender and sexuality, anthropology of love and intimacy, sex work and human trafficking, marriage and courtship, socio-legal studies; Korea, East Asia, United States


Understanding Culture; Gender, Race and Class; Ethnographic Methods


Dr. Nelson is a socio-cultural anthropologist whose research explores transformations in intimate relationships, particularly South Koreans' shifting expectations and experiences of marriage and courtship, and how the internet and public policy shape the entrepreneurial strategies of independent sex workers in the direct and virtual sectors of the commercial sex industry. He conducted extensive ethnographic fieldwork in South Korea exploring Koreans' evolving understandings of love and gender in the context of romantic relationships. He is also a researcher on the Erotic Entrepreneurs Project, an interdisciplinary study of the business strategies of independent online female escorts in the U.S. His most recent project explores racial inequality and ethno-erotic economies in the adult webcam modeling industry.

Representative Publications:

Nelson AJ. In Press. "Sacrifice and the agapic love gender gap in South Korean romantic relationships." In C. Mayer & E. Vanderheiden, eds, International Handbook of Love: Transcultural and Transdisciplinary Perspectives. Cham, CH: Springer.

Nelson AJ, Jankowiak WR. In Press. "Love's ethnographic record: Beyond the love/arranged marriage dichotomy and other false essentialisms." In C. Mayer & E. Vanderheiden, eds, International Handbook of Love: Transcultural and Transdisciplinary Perspectives. Cham, CH: Springer.

Nelson AJ, Hausbeck Korgan K, Izzo AM, Bessen SY. 2020. "Client desires and the price of seduction: Exploring the relationship between independent escorts’ marketing and rates." The Journal of Sex Research, 57(5), 664-680. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2019.1606885.

Nelson AJ, Yon KJ. 2019. "Core and peripheral features of the cross-cultural model of romantic love." Cross-Cultural Research, 53(5), 447-482. doi: 10.1177/1069397118813306.

Title: Adjunct Assistant Professor
Department: Department of Anthropology

Email address: Email me

Phone: (828) 262-2295

Fax: (828) 262-2982

Office address
348 Anne Belk Hall