Paul Michael Leonardo Atienza

 Paul Michael Atienza

Contact Information

Department of Anthropology
607 S Mathews Ave.
M/C 148
Urbana, IL 61801
Sociocultural Anthropology
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Additional Campus Affiliations


Paul Michael (Mike) Leonardo Atienza is a doctoral candidate of anthropology with a graduate minor in gender and women's studies. He is also a research affiliate with the the Seeing Systems INTERSECT group, an interdisciplinary collaboration among Urbana-Champaign scholars interested in the role of vision in technological systems. 

Mike's multi-sited ethnography titled “The Promise of Intimacy,” investigates the lived experiences of gay and bisexual Filipinos in and between Manila and Los Angeles. Looking specifically at digital media platforms on mobile phones and the allure of instant and limitless intimate social bonds, Mike examines how transnational connections of technology and intimacy shape people’s notions of time and space, emotional attachments, self-presentation, and concepts of social difference such as race, class, sex, and gender.

One of the first to receive a masters of arts degree in Southeast Asian studies at the University of California, Riverside's SEATRiP program (Southeast Asia: Text, Ritual, Performance), his thesis project was a webnography of user profiles and chat room communities in the most trafficked social networking site for men seeking other men in the Philippines. A classically-trained tenor, Mike is one of the original vocalists for the California-based keroncong musical group, Orkes Pantai Barat.  

A collaborator with performance artist Maria Arte Susya Purisima  Tolentino, who uses the form of drag to analyze media representations and discourse of Filipina/o/x. Tolentino interrogates in/visible Filipina/o/x embodiments that inform the artist's notions of femininity, mother/land, and the trans/migrant self.

Research Interests

  • digital media
  • genders and sexualities
  • Philippine diasporas
  • Southeast Asian/American Studies
  • performance studies
  • feminist technoscience
  • mass mediated communication
  • affects, feelings, senses
  • US empire


  • 2015 MA anthropology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • 2010 MA Southeast Asian Studies, University of California, Riverside
  • 2002 BA music and English, cum laude, University of California, Riverside