Animating the Sexuality-Health-Technology Nexus

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 11:00
Oral Presentation
Adam GAUBINGER, Smith College School of Social Work, USA
Rory CRATH, Smith College - Faculty of Social Work, USA
Jaime RANGEL, University of Toronto, Canada
Our project investigates hook-up apps targeting gay men and men who have sex with men (GM) as important socio-cultural contexts for researching how new biomedical HIV prevention technologies – their imperatives, messaging and uptake - resonate in GM’s virtual, cultural, erotic and systemically mediated worlds. These biomedical and social/sexual technologies act on GM’s bodies—in the feeling of excitement when cruising on an app, as a pill swallowed, as a condom on the skin, and as sexual acts that confound boundaries between virtual and non-virtual worlds. They are also aesthetic and visual—app users trade pictures, style their bodies, and view campaigns for PrEP’s little blue pill. The visual research methodology of body mapping is, at first glance, a promising tool to trace the difficult to articulate, fluid connections between a participant's personal, bodily and emotional experiences and the biopolitical sphere they navigate. And yet conventional approaches to body mapping assume the stability of a subject’s bodily experience – an ontological understanding that fails to capture the multi-temporal, multi-spatial nature of GM’s technologically mediated social-sexual lives. To address these limitations, we subjected body mapping to a theoretical intervention and then piloted the instrument. Drawing explicitly from emerging debates in trans-feminist, new materialism and queer of colour scholarship, our new methodology accounts for how a subject’s embodied sense of self, risk, and well-being, manifests and shifts over time, in our engagements with others, in relationship to biomedical technologies, and through our fantasies and insecurities. In this presentation, we detail the building of our theoretical scaffold, and the ways in which our newly devised body mapping protocol allows for new thinking on how relational assemblages of inanimate biomedical and social-media technologies, experiencing subjects/bodies and the mediating influences of pharmacological and pornographic industries are productive of new worlds of sexual intimacies and health risks.