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Party ‘n’ Play Online hook-up devices and the emergence of PNP practices among gay men. Kane Race Department of Gender & Cultural Studies University of Sydney, Australia. The renunciative turn.
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Party ‘n’ PlayOnline hook-up devices and the emergence of PNP practices among gay men Kane Race Department of Gender & Cultural Studies University of Sydney, Australia
The renunciative turn • Popular discourses increasingly pin HIV preventionas a possibility that relies on the renunciation of substance use (and sometimes even casual sex!) • To counter this, we need engaged analyses of sex/drug cultures so that the possibilities of safety/care that are immanent within these cultures can be identified and fostered
Online hookup sites/apps/locative devices A new(ish) infrastructure of the sexual encounter • If institutions allocate resources and establish hierarchies of authority • Infrastructures produce capacities and shape encounters in ways that become more or less durable components of everyday routines
Party and Play (“PNP”) • Also known as ”partying”, “wired play”, “chem sex”, “extended sessions” • At home; arranged online; involving one or more partners over extended period of time; use of psychoactive substances (typically crystal meth, smoked, GHB); pornography; etc. - a specifically assembled erotic environment. • About 15% - 20% of Sydney gay men had participated in PNP in last 6 months • Approached as a pathogenic site by public health literature • Also a site for the elaboration of specific affective associations
In social/political theory, the technological object/commodity is typically positioned as responsible for the demise of sociality, community, politics, etc. • An alternative approach asks “How do objects/devices mediate sociality?” (Object-oriented process studies)
Sex as play • “Looking to play?” • Georg Simmel, “The sociology of sociability” ( 1949) – role of play-form in the making of sociability • Bruno Latour’s “associology”- challenges the notion that “society” or “community” explains anything – rather these formations need to be explained, by tracing their assemblage.
Distinctive features/formations • Pre-specification of practices and desires • Co-construction of fantasy/ erotic speculation • Wired play/ extended sessions
Generative encounters • “the crystallization of their fantasies in the texts that constitute the vehicle for their interaction is akin to the joint construction of a script” (P. Adam et al. 2011: 507). • N.B Here desires, intentions and even identities do not precede the online encounter in any simple sense, but can be understood to emerge from it through a process of eventuation. • (On eventuation see Race, “Complex events”, forthcoming this year in Contemporary Drug Problems)
What are some implications for HIV prevention and education? • Requires a different form of health education than that which addresses itself to the sovereign, intentional, calculative, rational-choice actor. • It becomes impossible to classify any individual element in a sexual assemblage as good or badsince their properties are emergent • What matters is the manner in which various different elements come together in an assemblage to generate specific effects (whether good or bad) – and it is this coming together that requires specific attention and vigilance. • A training in potentialities (both promising and dangerous) – what I call “speculative pragmatism” • Promoting this mode of attention might become the goal of a new form of sexual health and drug education.
Acknowledgements • This research has been supported by an Australian Research Council Discovery Grant, “Changing Spaces of HIV Prevention” DP120101990. • Thanks to the community of informants who have shared their experiences and impressions of changes to sexual community and gay sexual culture. • Article based on this paper forthcoming this year in Sexualities • Two related pieces forthcoming in Contemporary Drug Problems and Culture, Health & Sexuality.