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Antibiotics and the Biopolitics of Sex Work in Zimbabwe

Manyau, Salome, Dixon, Justin, Mutukwa, Norest, Kandiye, Faith, Palanco Lopez, Paula, MacPherson, Eleanor ORCID:, Ferrand, Rashida A. and Chandler, Clare I. R. (2022) 'Antibiotics and the Biopolitics of Sex Work in Zimbabwe'. Medical Anthropology, Vol 41, Issue 3, pp. 257-271.

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The advent of antibiotics transformed the global public health landscape, dramatically improving health outcomes. Drawing on historical and ethnographic research on sex work in Zimbabwe, we examine the role of antibiotics in the management of sexually transmitted infections among sex workers, from punitive colonial approaches to “empowerment”-based discourses. We illustrate how programs for sex workers, while valued by these women, are narrow, exclusionary, and enact a pharmaceuticalized form of governance that hangs on the efficacy of antibiotics. With antibiotics’ efficacy under threat, we consider how latent colonial logics are in danger of being reactivated to control both infections and women.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: WA Public Health > WA 20.5 Research (General)
WA Public Health > WA 30 Socioeconomic factors in public health (General)
Faculty: Department: Clinical Sciences & International Health > Clinical Sciences Department
Digital Object Identifer (DOI):
Depositing User: Clare Bennett
Date Deposited: 17 Aug 2022 09:08
Last Modified: 16 Jun 2023 12:13


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