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Manuscript deadline
16 October 2020

Cover image - Culture Health & Sexuality

Culture Health & Sexuality

Special Issue Editor(s)

Jaime García-Iglesias, University of Manchester
[email protected]

Maurice Nagington, University of Manchester
[email protected]

Peter Aggleton, UNSW Sydney, Australia and UCL, UK
[email protected]

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Viral Times - Re-thinking COVID-19 and HIV

We live in viral times: in just a few months, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused momentous alterations to our lives, society and culture. These changes—from the risk of infection to the stark highlighting of the inequality inherent to neoliberal systems—are of such depth that thinker Paul B. Preciado asked: “under what conditions and in which way would life be worth living?”

Some current discussions by queer scholars about the social impacts of COVID-19 are informed by the cultural inheritance from the HIV and AIDS crisis that swept the world in 1980s and 1990s (and, both the virus and its cultural heritage remain endemic to many communities in the globe). However, at a broader level, many lessons from the AIDS crisis are being ignored, particularly those that highlight the importance of collective and community-based responses to the virus. At the same time, many political leaders have often excluded the humanities and social sciences, forgetting the essential role these subjects play in theorising through and about the HIV epidemic, and their key role of thinking about the conditions of the current situation. Instead, the “expert” advice spoken about by politicians has almost always only been limited to the medical sciences (which is usually presented as monolithic and incontrovertible) with little space provided for expert scholars in other areas to critically engage with the situation.

This themed symposium in Culture, Health and Sexuality provides a space in which to ask: how might memory and culture of HIV inform our responses to COVID-19? In asking this question, we hope to foster critical engagements with the role of thinking about HIV and AIDS in the current culture of pandemic that address issues such as:

  • What lessons can HIV teach in developing or deploying critical and social public health?
  • What do the cultural responses to the virus look, sound and feel like across borders, groups and communities? What power dynamics does COVID-19 intersect with?
  • What are the material conditions of sexuality and health during an epidemic?
  • How might digital cultures mediate experiences of an epidemic?
  • Why and how is HIV an obvious precedent to COVID-19?
  • What are the risks and omissions of establishing a connection between HIV and COVID-19?
  • How might COVID-19 inform our memories of HIV?
  • What collective responses have we seen to COVID-19 and HIV and AIDS, and what can we learn by comparing them?
  • What does comparing COVID-19 and HIV and AIDS tell us about how lives matter?

We call for contributions that critically engage with the relationship between HIV and COVID-19 and which address issues such as (but are not limited to):

  • Experiences of sexuality and intimacy in viral times, as well as the role of technology in developing intimacy, connection and embodiment
  • The material conditions of sex work and sexual health provision during an epidemic
  • The role of sex and sexuality: thinking about hook-ups and casual sociality during social distancing, the use and production of pornography, and the experiences of and need for physical and digital sex
  • Sexual health, prevention, risk and safer sex in viral times.
  • Agency, individuality, and victimhood, as well as notions of intimate and good/bad citizenship
  • Cultural memories and genealogies of COVID-19 and HIV: who remembers and who gets remembered
  • Responses to COVID-19 and HIV, particularly those from public health, politics and science
  • Media narratives of COVID-19, HIV and the AIDS crisis
  • Community and relational responses and activism
  • How stigma, prejudice and discrimination as well as inequalities have differentially influenced responses (particularly in times of scarcity and ‘war-time triage’), such as: socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, age, nationality, sexuality, or gender

We remain open to other explorations that address the relationship between HIV and COVID-19 from culture, health and sexuality perspectives. Contributions are encouraged from a range of perspectives and disciplines, including but not limited to the social sciences and humanities.

As we write this, we are painfully aware of the challenging emotional and labour conditions many scholars are currently experiencing, so we encourage collaborative, reflexive and creative pieces as well as writing that addresses these issues through autobiography, critical media and cultural studies, critical theory, queer theory and ethnography or lived experience. We hope the collection will bridge gaps between disciplines and fields to become an initial but enduring point of departure for longer-term conversations about these issues.

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Submission Instructions

Please send abstracts (300 words) to the guest editors via email ([email protected] and [email protected]) for consideration by 16th June 2020. Please mark submissions with the subject heading Covid-19 Themed Symposium. We advise prior abstract submission, but are open to full submission of manuscripts.

If you would like to discuss your paper informally with one of the special issue editors, please contact one of them via email ([email protected] and [email protected])

Papers must not exceed 7500 words, inclusive of the abstract, tables, references, figure captions, etc.

All articles will be peer reviewed in the usual way and only those that comply with the journal’s normal expectations will be accepted for publication.

When you submit, please mark your paper clearly for consideration for inclusion in the COVID-19 themed symposium.

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