Accepted Paper:

Making it (not too) sexy and critically catchy: anthropology and sex education for teenagers  


Nicoletta Landi (University of Bologna)

Paper short abstract:

From my experience as anthropologist and sex educator during the development and trial of a sex education project for teenagers within an Italian public youth counselling centre, I will show anthropology’s chances to engage and impact educative practices defining and handling teenage sexual health.

Paper long abstract:

I want to focus on the theme of going public as anthropologist starting from a specific study I have been leading for my PhD: an action-research carried out within a youth counselling centre (named Spazio Giovani and located in Bologna, northern Italy) aimed to investigate how public national and international policies define teenage sexual health and become educative practices inside the Italian Public Health System.

I have been part of an inter-subjective process involving the stakeholders (international and local policy makers, Spazio Giovani's workers such as psychologists and gynaecologists; teachers and headmasters from local Junior High schools; teenagers and their families; myself) involved in the development and trial of an experimental sex education project (W l'amore) addressed to 13-years-old teenagers to be lead in school settings in cooperation among teachers and social and health workers.

Through the exposition of some episodes taken from the fieldwork and through the presentation of some extracts (images and texts) of the material we co-developed I will underline how difficult and, at the same time, fundamental is to engage as anthropologists in public debates and specific educative and health practices, in particular for what concerns sexual health promotion for teenagers.

How to easily explain to the stakeholders what queer, heterosexism and culturalism are and why is so hard to say clit or anus in front of a teens' class, especially for teachers? Anthropology can be both a deconstructive and constructive tool, in this case to highlight sex education critical aspects and potentialities.

Panel P099
Going public: writing and speaking outside the ivory tower