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Structural Intimacies: Sexual Stories in the Black AIDS Epidemic

Sonja Mackenzie
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 204
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  • Book Info
    Structural Intimacies
    Book Description:

    One of the most relevant social problems in contemporary American life is the continuing HIV epidemic in the Black population. With vivid ethnographic detail, this book brings together scholarship on the structural dimensions of the AIDS epidemic and the social construction of sexuality to assert that shifting forms of sexual stories-structural intimacies-are emerging, produced by the meeting of intimate lives and social structural patterns. These stories render such inequalities as racism, poverty, gender power disparities, sexual stigma, and discrimination as central not just to the dramatic, disproportionate spread of HIV in Black communities in the United States, but to the formation of Black sexualities.Sonja Mackenzie elegantly argues that structural vulnerability is felt-quite literally-in the blood, in the possibilities and constraints on sexual lives, and in the rhetorics of their telling. The circulation of structural intimacies in daily life and in the political domain reflects possibilities for seeking what Mackenzie callsintimate justiceat the nexus of cultural, economic, political, and moral spheres.Structural Intimaciespresents a compelling case: in an era of deepening medicalization of HIV/AIDS, public health must move beyond individual-level interventions to community-level health equity frames and policy changes

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-6099-1
    Subjects: Health Sciences, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. ii-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Chapter 1 Storying Sexuality in the Black AIDS Epidemic
    (pp. 1-18)

    On December 9, 2005, the much-anticipated filmBrokeback Mountainwas released in the United States. Interviews for this study began the week before, symbolically launched on December 1st, World AIDS Day. The last site we expected to visit during these interviews was Brokeback Mountain, Wyoming. However, for many respondents,Brokeback Mountainhad clearly—and very quickly—come to represent the looming presence of racism in conditioning understandings and representations of same-sex sexuality among Black men.

    Set in the expansive, yet close, mountain territory of Wyoming, this film adaptation of E. Annie Proulx’s short story “Brokeback Mountain” traces two decades of...

  5. Chapter 2 A Liquor Store on Every Corner: Intimate States of Alcohol and HIV/AIDS
    (pp. 19-40)

    Frederick is a well-built, dark-skinned man in his forties. Dressed in a sweater reminiscent of the early 1990s, he looks put-together but is vulnerable nonetheless once he starts speaking. Frederick’s appearance, the outer layer of his life, speaks volumes about the struggles he has endured. Anger emanates from his body and his words, held tenuously in the intricate weave and once-fashionable fabric of his sweater—anger toward his family, whites, women, and the lifetime of racism and victimhood he feels at the collective hands of these groups. He has experienced racism, starting within his own lighter-skinned family who treated him...

  6. Chapter 3 Never a Black Brokeback Mountain: Sexual Silence and the “Down Low” in the Age of AIDS
    (pp. 41-71)

    Matteo’s every move as a gay Black man is carefully planned to steer the course of racism. His daily life working as a health educator in San Francisco involves speaking to mostly Black men and women across the city—in high schools and shelters, community centers and crack houses, wherever anyone will listen to his message—about thosefun things: sex and protection. “I get to go around and talk about sex all day,” Matteo laughs, a moment of ease in an otherwise painful story of community and personal struggle to speak alternate sexual stories to those he renders through...

  7. Chapter 4 Crazy Talk: The Conspiracy Counter-Narrative in the Black AIDS Epidemic
    (pp. 72-95)

    Cathy is a dynamic woman in her mid-forties whose family relocated to the Bay Area from Topeka, Kansas, when she was in high school. She has worked for the security company that her parents own for as long as she can remember, and owns a home in Oakland with her soon-to-be husband, a high-profile retired football player. HIV-negative, she nonetheless has close proximity to the epidemic, having lost several of her best gay friends to the disease. She describes hearing about HIV for the first time, raising her theories about HIV origins as inherent in this moment: “It scared me....

  8. Chapter 5 The President, the Preacher, and Race and Racism in the Obama Era
    (pp. 96-118)

    Maxwell, whom we last left in chapter 4 sorting through the filing cabinets of his research articles and medical memory, reflects onwhy is it just usliving and dying with HIV/AIDS twenty-five years into the epidemic. His story, passionate and pained, takes us back to memories of his childhood, tolife as it was. Maxwell chuckles as he recalls the hot dogs and hamburgers he enjoyed onour side of the separating wallin his favorite restaurant, savoring, if for a fleeting moment, perhaps the most symbolic experience of an all-American childhood, the hamburger. Born in Birmingham, Alabama, in...

  9. Appendix: Methodological Matters
    (pp. 119-128)
  10. Notes
    (pp. 129-162)
  11. References
    (pp. 163-178)
  12. Index
    (pp. 179-185)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 186-188)