Sex in Development

Science, Sexuality, and Morality in Global Perspective

Sex in Development

Book Pages: 360 Illustrations: 6 b&w photos, 4 illus. Published: May 2005

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Gender and Sexuality > Sex and Sexuality, Science and Technology Studies

Sex in Development examines how development projects around the world intended to promote population management, disease prevention, and maternal and child health intentionally and unintentionally shape ideas about what constitutes “normal” sexual practices and identities. From sex education in Uganda to aids prevention in India to family planning in Greece, various sites of development work related to sex, sexuality, and reproduction are examined in the rich, ethnographically grounded essays in this volume. These essays demonstrate that ideas related to morality are repeatedly enacted in ostensibly value-neutral efforts to put into practice a “global” agenda reflecting the latest medical science.

Sex in Development combines the cultural analysis of sexuality, critiques of global development, and science and technology studies. Whether considering the resistance encountered by representatives of an American pharmaceutical company attempting to teach Russian doctors a “value free” way to offer patients birth control or the tension between Tibetan Buddhist ideas of fertility and the modernization schemes of the Chinese government, these essays show that attempts to make sex a universal moral object to be managed and controlled leave a host of moral ambiguities in their wake as they are engaged, resisted, and reinvented in different ways throughout the world.

Contributors. Vincanne Adams, Leslie Butt, Lawrence Cohen, Heather Dell, Vinh-Kim Nguyen, Shanti Parikh, Heather Paxson, Stacy Leigh Pigg, Michele Rivkin-Fish


“The editors . . . have succeeded in assembling a set of articles that do much more than tell readers what’s up with sex here and there. . . . They offer discussions that frame sex in the context of modernization, development, globalization, family planning, and, most notably, ethics and morality.” — Ellen Lewin, American Ethnologist

“This book is both timely and necessary and can serve as an essential text for Development, Sexuality, and Gender Studies. The book will also be very useful in Anthropology, Public Health, and Reproductive Health courses.” — Ruby Greene, International Journal of Health Planning Management

“This book should appeal to those working in development and cross-cultural contexts. Those in the sexual and reproductive health field will find it particularly relevant, but those working on other aspects of public health may benefit from exposure to this anthropological approach.” — Emma Kowal, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health

“This is an excellent book for those engaged in designing and implementing programs that promote family planning and safe sex.” — Susan Cotts Watkins, Studies in Family Planning

"[S]timulating." — Ines Smyth, Development in Practice

“[A] refreshing perspective. . . . The authors, and especially Adams and Pigg in their introduction, skillfully examine the facticity of scientific understandings of the body and sex typical of development projects, uncovering ways in which certain discourses, like science, come to be different and often more powerful than others in practice. . . . Through all of the contributions, we see sex in development as a global process but one that takes on many different guises.” — Robert C. Philen, American Anthropologist

“[A] series of rich and detailed ethnographic studies carried out by anthropologists over the past 10 years in Asia, Africa and Europe. . . . [T]his collection makes an important contribution to fledgling debates on sexuality and development in a global context.” — Carolyn H. Williams, Feminist Review

“[A]n excellent anthropological intervention into development studies that deserves a broad interdisciplinary feminist audience. . . . Indeed, each of the chapters in this anthology is an excellent ethnographic case study exploring the situated dynamics of sex and development programs (Adams and Pigg, 21). Assembled together, and organized around clearly articulated common themes, they make this book a truly important one. The book has remarkable geographic and conceptual scope, and the conversation it stages among sexuality studies, science studies, and critical development work is exceptionally innovative. In short, the collection deserves to have broad and lasting impact on the
field.” — Kate Bedford, Signs

“The book makes a case for thinking in new directions about sexuality in relation to the ‘scientization’ of development policies. It's an important reference work for scholarship in anthropology, public health, and gender and sexuality studies, and in development studies.” — Frauensolidarität

“This book charts territory that has so far been little explored in gender and development literature, namely the interrelationships between totalizing, ‘scientifically neutral’ concepts of sex and sexuality and local constructs of sex and gender in developing societies.” — Sylvia Chant, Progress in Development Studies

“This volume is an interesting read for social scientists, social historians, and health care workers. By bringing such richly documented case studies together, it inspires researchers who study sexuality to reflect upon how exactly sexuality is constituted in their time and place…. [T]his volume is a must.” — Anna C. M. Tijsseling, Archives of Sexual Behavior

"This collection adopts a sophisticated ethnographic and historical perspective. . . . [I]t will be invaluable to those with an interest in health policy or development as well as anthropology." — Sophie Day, TLS

“This important and timely book makes a case for thinking in new directions about sexuality in relation to the ‘scientization’ of development policies. It will become an important reference work for future scholarship in anthropology, public health, and gender and sexuality studies, and, one would hope, in development studies.” — Rayna Rapp, coeditor of Conceiving the New World Order: The Global Politics of Reproduction


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Vincanne Adams is Professor in the Department of Anthropology, History, and Social Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. She is the author of Doctors for Democracy: Health Professionals in the Nepal Revolution.

Stacy Leigh Pigg is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. She is the editor of the journal Medical Anthropology: Cross-Cultural Studies in Health and Illness.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix

Introduction: The Moral Object of Sex /Stacy Leigh Pigg and Vincanne Adams 1

Globalizing the Facts of Life / Stacy Leigh Pigg 39

Part 1: The Production of New Subjectivities 67

Moral Science and the Management of "Sexual Revolution" in Russia / Michele Rivkin-Fish 71

Family Planning, Human Nature, and the Ethical Subject of Sex in Urban Greece / Heather Paxson 95

From Auntie to Disco: The Bifurcation of Risk and Pleasure in Sex Education in Uganda / Shanti A. Parikh 125

Part 2: The Creation of Normativities as a Biopolitical Project 159

Sexuality, the State, and the Runaway Wives of Highlands Papua, Indonesia / Leslie Butt 163

"Ordinary" Sex, Prostitutes, and Middle-Class Wives: Liberalization and National Identity in India / Heather S. Dell 187

Moral Orgasm and Productive Sex: Tantrism Faces Fertility Control in Lhasa, Tibet (China) / Vincanne Adams 207

Part 3: Contestations of Liberal Humanism Forged in Sexual Identity Politics 241

Uses and Pleasures: Sexual Modernity, HIV/AIDS, and Confessional Technologies in a West African Metropolis / Vinh-Kim Nguyen 245

The Kothi Wars: AIDS Cosmopolitanism and the Morality of Classification / Lawrence Cohen 269

References 305

Contributors 333

Index 335
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3491-0 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3479-8
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