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Book Launch: Materialities of sex in a time of HIV

Birkbeck Institutes
Event organized by Birkbeck Institutes

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'Materialities of sex in a time of HIV' by Annette-Carina van der Zaag.
Book launch and panel discussion with commentaries by Marsha Rosengarten and Amber Jacobs. The discussion will be followed by a wine reception.

Contemporary feminist theory has moved into posthuman terrains as feminist theorists utilise human/nonhuman relations and a motley crew of nonhuman entities to reinvigorate feminist critique of nature/culture dichotomies. But what place is left for sex/gender relations in this move beyond the human? Materialities of Sex in a Time of HIV is written on the cusp of feminist theory of materiality and the analysis of an object at the heart of various sex/gender manifestations – the vaginal microbicide. Vaginal microbicides are female-initiated HIV prevention methods (currently tested in clinical trials) designed as creams, rings, gels and sponges that women can insert vaginally before having sex to protect themselves against HIV infection. The microbicide is developed as a tool for women’s empowerment in the HIV epidemic, but what happens to feminist ideals when they materialise through biomedical practice? This book provides an analysis of the field of microbicide development to articulate the complexity of its promise and material effects; and utilises the microbicide as an analytical ally in a provocative debate with contemporary feminist theory.

What can vaginal microbicides tell us? This compelling book engages the political, empirical and theoretical stakes of HIV science and prevention in its lived material reality. Crafting an innovative feminist neomaterialist toolkit, van der Zaag proposes an exciting agenda for feminist theorisations of empirical materialising in the world. This ground-breaking book demonstrates the transformative potential of analysis to revise, rewrite and reimagine feminist problems, concepts and futures.

Nicole Vitellone, AF Warr Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Liverpool

This book is an important scholarly contribution to feminist materialism and the politics of health.

Claire Colebrook, Edwin Erle Sparkes Professor of English, Penn State University