1st Edition

The Gay Science Intimate Experiments with the Problem of HIV

By Kane Race Copyright 2018
    194 Pages
    by Routledge

    206 Pages
    by Routledge

    Since the onset of the HIV epidemic, the behaviour of men who have sex with men has been subject to intense scrutiny on the part of the behavioural and sociomedical sciences. What happens when we consider the work of these sciences to be not merely descriptive, but also constitutive of the realities it describes? The Gay Science pays attention to lived experiences of sex, drugs and the scientific practices that make these experiences intelligible. Through a series of empirically and historically detailed case studies, the book examines how new technologies and scientific artifacts – such as antiretroviral therapy, digital hookup apps and research methods – mediate sexual encounters and shape the worlds and self-practices of men who have sex with men.


    Rather than debunking scientific practices or minimizing their significance, The Gay Science approaches these practices as ways in which we ‘learn to be affected’ by HIV. It explores what knowledge practices best engage us, move us and increase our powers and capacities for action. The book includes an historical analysis of drug use as a significant element in the formation of urban gay cultures; constructivist accounts of the emergence of barebacking and chemsex; a performative response to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis and its uptake; and, a speculative analysis of ways of thinking and doing sexual community in the digital context.


    Combining insights from queer theory, process philosophy and science and technology studies to develop an original approach to the analysis of sexuality, drug use, public health and digital practices, this book demonstrates the ontological consequences of different modes of attending to risk and pleasure. It is suitable for those interested in cultural studies, sociology, gender and sexuality studies, digital culture, public health and drug and alcohol studies.

    1. The Gay Science: intimate experiments with the problem of HIV
    2. Queer Chemistry: gay partying and collective innovations in care
    3. Click Here for HIV Status: sorting for sexual partners
    4. Making Up Barebackers
    5. Reluctant Objects: pre-exposure prophylaxis and negative sex
    6. Framing Responsibility: accounting for objects, networks and events
    7. Chemsex: a case for gay analysis
    8. Speculative Intimacies: some less acknowledged possibilities of smart phone use
    9. Conclusion: The Queer Chemistry of Counterpublic Health in Digital Times


    Kane Race is Associate Professor of Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney, Australia. He is the convenor of the Queer Contingent of Unharm and the author of Pleasure Consuming Medicine: the queer politics of drugs (2009).

    "The Gay Science is a gift. Working across art, economics, epidemiology, sociology, ethnography and critical theories of personhood and sexuality, Kane Race freshens up how we see the medical and sexual chemistry of contemporary gayness. Drugs and new media, parties and apps create new lifeworlds for sex and intimacy  managing them and revising the event of intimate encounters. Philosophically engaged and fun to read, The Gay Science feels out for ways to phrase queer sexuality's current transitional phase". Lauren Berlant, George M. Pullman Distinguished Service Professor, The University of Chicago, USA

    "In The Gay Science, Kane Race moves constantly, seamlessly, and elegantly back and forth between cutting-edge social theory and the new, intimate worlds of sex and drugs. His fine-tuned investigations of risks and pleasures reveal the intricate connections of biomedicine, criminal law, and new digital infrastructures in the forging of sexual practices and the regulation of sexual subjects. This fascinating and important book will ignite debate about the prospects for enacting what Race provocatively terms 'counterpublic health'." Steven Epstein, Professor of Sociology and John C. Shaffer Professor in the Humanities, Northwestern University, USA