Accepted Paper:

Material Intimacies: the syringe, science and gender  

Author:

Nicole Vitellone (University of Liverpool)

Paper short abstract:

Can gender and the syringe be productively integrated into social research? Addressing the empirical problem of risk in intimate injecting relationships as a material feminist concern, this paper describes the theoretical and methodological challenges the syringe poses to thought, science and policy.

Paper long abstract:

This paper investigates the materiality of gender in intimate syringe sharing practices. My aim is to consider how gender and the syringe might be more productively integrated into social research and make interventions in public health policy. Addressing the problem of risk in intimate injecting relationships as a feminist concern I review the ways the category of gender and the object of the syringe have been used to account for the causes and effects of harm. Drawing on my own empirical findings on the biographies of the syringe, Karen Barad's work on intra-action and Marilyn Strathern's work on the gift, I show that what might be known in ethnographic and social studies of intimate syringe sharing need not be defined or determined by fixed analyses of the injecting human subject or injecting technological object. Instead, by engendering a critical intimacy with the syringe my method of material inquiring reveals gender to concern an entanglement with the object. In paying closer attention to the entangled processes of giving, receiving and sharing this paper confronts the theoretical and methodological challenges the syringe poses to thought, social science and public health policy.

Panel T100
Feminist Technoscience Studies in Unexpected Places: (Intra)Activism and Social Justice