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Structural Intimacies

Sexual Stories in the Black AIDS Epidemic

Sonja Mackenzie

Publication Year: 2013

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 calls intimate justice at the nexus of cultural, economic, political, and moral spheres. Structural Intimacies presents 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

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Series: Critical Issues in Health and Medicine


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, About the Series, Copyright Page, Dedication

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pp. 2-6


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pp. vii-7

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pp. ix-xi

Any intellectual project has a long trajectory. First, I thank each of my fortythree study interviewees, whose articulate and impassioned stories of their lives and incisive visions of the social fabric I have tried to embed within these pages. Thank you for entrusting these histories to us, for showing up in rain or...

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Chapter 1. Storying Sexuality with Black AIDS Epidemic

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pp. 1-18

On December 9, 2005, the much-anticipated film Brokeback Mountain was 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....

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Chapter 2. A Liquor Store on Every Corner. Intimate States of Alcohol and HIV/AIDS

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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...

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Chapter 3. Never a Black Boreback Mountain. Sexual Silence and the Down Low and the Age of AIDS

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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...

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Chapter 4. Crazy Talk. The Conspirace Counter-Narrative in the Black AIDS Epidemic

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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...

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Chapter 5. The President, the Preacher, and Raceand Racism in the Obama Era

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pp. 96-118

Maxwell, whom we last left in chapter 4 sorting through the filing cabinets of his research articles and medical memory, reflects on why is it just us living and dying with HIV/AIDS twenty-five years into the epidemic. His story, passionate and pained, takes us back to memories of his childhood, to life as it...

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Appendix. Methodological Matters

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pp. 119-128

In December 2005, the day after the eighth annual World AIDS Day urged people the world over to “keep the promise” to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic, a middle-aged HIV-negative man, Al, played his part by walking into an office in downtown San Francisco. As with many of this project’s interviewees, he was...


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pp. 129-162


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pp. 163-178


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pp. 179-185

Other Works in the Series, About the Author

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pp. 186-188

E-ISBN-13: 9780813560991
E-ISBN-10: 0813560993
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813560984

Page Count: 204
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Critical Issues in Health and Medicine
Series Editor Byline: Edited by Janet Golden and Rima D. Apple See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 867740429
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Structural Intimacies

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • AIDS (Disease) -- Social aspects -- United States.
  • African Americans -- Diseases -- United States.
  • HIV-positive persons -- United States -- Social conditions.
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