Antibiotics and the Biopolitics of Sex Work in Zimbabwe

  29 March 2022

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.

Further reading: Medical Antropology
Author(s): Salome Manyau et al
Effective Surveillance   Healthy Patients  
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Unrestricted financial support by:

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