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Collective Biologies

Collective Biologies

Healing Social Ills through Sexual Health Research in Mexico

by Emily A. Wentzell

Published by: Duke University Press Books

240 pages, 152.00 x 229.00 x 0.00 mm

  • ISBN: 9781478014881
  • Published: November 2021


In Collective Biologies, Emily A. Wentzell uses sexual health research participation as a case study for investigating the use of individual health behaviors to aid groups facing crisis and change. Wentzell analyzes couples' experiences of a longitudinal study of HPV occurrence in men in Cuernavaca, Mexico. She observes how their experiences reflected Mexican cultural understandings of group belonging through categories like family and race. For instance, partners drew on collective rather than individualistic understandings of biology to hope that men's performance of “modern” masculinities, marriage, and healthcare via HPV research would aid groups ranging from church congregations to the Mexican populace. Thus, Wentzell challenges the common regulatory view of medical research participation as an individual pursuit. Instead, she demonstrates that medical research is a daily life arena which people might use for fixing embodied societal problems. By identifying forms of group interconnectedness as “collective biologies,” Wentzell investigates how people can use their own actions to enhance collective health and well-being in ways that neoliberal emphasis on individuality obscure.