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Culture, Health and Sexuality - Topics of Australian Academic’s Lecture

28 Jul, 2017

Professor Peter Aggleton of the Centre for Social Research in Health at the University of New South Wales in Australia who spoke on: Culture, Health and Sexuality.

UKZN’s School of Education recently hosted a lecture by Professor Peter Aggleton of the Centre for Social Research in Health at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, on the topic: Culture, Health and Sexuality: Insights and Perspectives from a Rapidly Developing Field.

Aggleton looked back over the past 25 years detailing the development of what has become an increasingly legitimate field of study, focusing on the intersections between culture, health and sexuality.

He traced the origins of this inter-disciplinary and cross-perspectival development to dissatisfaction with the limits of earlier ‘single perspective’ accounts of sex, sexual relationships and the sexual, offered by subjects such as anthropology, demography, psychology and sociology.

Aggleton recognised the impact of social movements (particularly LGBTQ activism and second wave feminism) in advocating for rights and social change as influential.

 ‘The advent of HIV provided additional impetus to what has become an important new way of framing issues connecting the individual to culture, community and social structure.

‘Legitimacy for such an approach to understanding people and the socio-sexual relationships they enter into, has been provided by the emergence of a whole new field of research and scholarship resourced by specialist books and journals,’ he said. ‘Yet such progress has not been without opposition from academic “purists” calling for a return to what they see as less complex modes of explanation, and by policy makers seeking what they describe as programmes and interventions that “work”.’

Aggleton recommends that people recognise the importance of the personal, political, and cultural dimensions of sexuality, encouraging serious engagement with structural factors, cultural influences and powers of resistance.

‘We have come a long way in a short period of time. There is new “openness” together with growth of resistance. We need to recognise that our work is only just beginning and applying new understanding is often harder than we expect,’ said Aggleton. 

Melissa Mungroo mungroo@ukzn.ac.za

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