- Editorial introduction: Secrecy as embodied practice: beyond the confessional imperative
- Culture, Health & Sexuality
- Volume | Issue number
- 14 | S1
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
This introduction to this special issue of Culture, Health & Sexuality aims to intervene critically in debates in public health about sexual rights and ways of de-stigmatising HIV/AIDS, in which silence and secrets are seen to undermine well-being and perpetuate stigma. It presents key insights from collaborative studies on HIV/AIDS and youth sexual health, arguing that advocates of disclosure and sexual rights need to think more contextually and tactically in promoting truth-telling. The authors aim to enhance current thinking on secrecy, which examines it primarily as a social practice, by emphasising the centrality of the body and the experience of embodiment in the making and unmaking of secrets. To understand secrecy as embodied practice requires understanding how it simultaneously involves the body as subject - as the basis from which we experience the world - and the body as object - that can be actively manipulated, silenced and ‘done’. The authors show how tensions emerge when bodies reveal reproductive mishaps and describe how the dissonances are resolved through a variety of silencing practices. The paper ends by discussing the implications of these insights for sexual-health programmes.
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