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Intimate Archives: Sexual Politics and the AIDS Crisis

This panel interrogates the past trajectories and present legacies of the AIDS Crisis to sexual politics and queer activism in the Global South.

The AIDS pandemic of the 1990s has undeniably shaped how states, international organisations and activists understand and act upon the politics of sexuality across the world. In the Global South, the health crisis provoked unprecedented public investment in the regulation, study, and mapping of sexual practices and identities, from the longstanding “problem” of sex work to the emerging and increasingly institutionalized field of LGBT politics and activism. In this highly complex and transnational context, a variety of actors – from global donors to local activists – defined and defended different and often competing agendas, policy priorities, and political aspirations.

The legacies of the AIDS crisis are still with us today, and continue to generate debate, tensions, and contestation in academia, public policy, and activist sectors alike. This webinar unpacks some of these questions and entanglements by inviting a conversation grounded in the Global South. Our speakers will elaborate on their research projects in India, Kenya, and Mozambique.


Gowri Vijayakumar is an Assistant Professor of Sociology and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Brandeis University. Her research and teaching use feminist and transnational perspectives to illuminate the trajectories of social movements, the everyday life of the state, and the political economy of globalization. Most of her research focuses on India. Her first book, At Risk: Indian Sexual Politics and the Global AIDS Crisis, forthcoming with Stanford University Press, draws on ethnographic fieldwork from India and Kenya to consider the fraught relationship between sex worker and LGBTQ+ activists and HIV prevention programs. She is also engaged in ongoing collaborative research projects on sex work and activism in Bangalore. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Gender & Society, World Development, Qualitative Sociology, Social Problems, Political Power and Social Theory, Global Labor Journal, and Signs, and has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the Social Science Research Council.

Francisco Miguel is a FAPESP Postdoctoral Fellow at the State University of Campinas (Unicamp). He holds a Ph.D. in Social Anthropology at the University of Brasilia (2019). He is a member of the Group of Studies in African Contexts (ECOA/UNB) and a former temporary instructor at the Department of Collective Health (UnB). He is the author of the book Levam má bô: homossexualidades masculinas em um arquipélago Africano (Levam má bô: male homossexualities in an African archipelago) (2016). He is one of the 2020 Colin Murray Award for Postdoctoral Research in Southern Africa. His current research interests are on sexuality, gender, history, health, and political movements in African lusophone countries.


Debjyoti Ghosh is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Sociology, University of Pretoria, South Africa. As a human rights lawyer, he has been involved in queer rights activism and has also worked on issues of HIV/AIDS, women and children. His academic research focussed on transgender rights in India, Brazil and South Africa, and his primary interest areas are constitutionalism, health, queer rights, minority rights, and citizenship.


Srila Roy is an Associate Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand and Lead Investigator of the Governing Intimacies Project.