• The Democratic Biopolitics of PrEP

    Karsten Schubert (see profile)
    LGBTQ Studies, Political Philosophy & Theory, Queer and Trans German Studies GSA Network, Queer Theory Group
    HIV infections, AIDS (Disease), Biopolitics, Political science, Gays, Queer theory
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    Queer, MSM, sex, Condoms, PrEP, HIV/AIDS, Political theory, Queer/gay
    Permanent URL:
    PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is a relatively new drug-based HIV prevention technique and an important means to lower the HIV risk of gay men who are especially vulnerable to HIV. From the perspective of biopolitics, PrEP inscribes itself in a larger trend of medicalization and the rise of pharmapower. This article reconstructs and evaluates contemporary literature on biopolitical theory as it applies to PrEP, by bringing it in a dialogue with a mapping of the political debate on PrEP. As PrEP changes sexual norms and subjectification, for example condom use and its meaning for gay subjectivity, it is highly contested. The article shows that the debate on PrEP can be best described with the concepts ‘sexual-somatic ethics’ and ‘democratic biopolitics’, which I develop based on the biopolitical approach of Nikolas Rose and Paul Rabinow. In contrast, interpretations of PrEP which are following governmentality studies or Italian Theory amount to either farfetched or trivial positions on PrEP, when seen in light of the political debate. Furthermore, the article is a contribution to the scholarship on gay subjectivity, highlighting how homophobia and homonormativity haunts gay sex even in liberal environments, and how PrEP can serve as an entrypoint for the destigmatization of gay sexuality and transformation of gay subjectivity. ‘Biopolitical democratization’ entails making explicit how medical technology and health care relates to sexual subjectification and ethics, to strengthen the voice of (potential) PrEP users in health politics, and to renegotiate the profit and power of Big Pharma.
    Published as:
    Book chapter    
    Last Updated:
    4 years ago
    All Rights Reserved
    Share this:


    Item Name: pdf schubert-2019-the-democratic-biopolitics-of-prep-final-manuscript.pdf
      Download View in browser
    Activity: Downloads: 321