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Sexualized Bodies And Finance Capital


Mohan Rao

RISKY BODIES AND TECHNO-INTIMACY: REFLECTIONS ON SEXUALITY, MEDIA, SCIENCE AND FINANCE
By Geeta Patel
Women Unlimited, Delhi, Year 2017, pp.337, Rs.795

VOLUME XLI NUMBER 5 May 2017

Let me begin by confessing I am not                                 the most appropriate reviewer for this                                 book. When I volunteered to review the book, I was certain that the book would be about transnational commercial surrogacy or biocapital, as Kaushik Sunder Rajan’s work brilliantly shows us, where finance capital is intermeshed with trade in body parts: ova, fertilized embryos, embryonic stem cells and cord blood, a global business running into trillions. The book is only tangentially about these. And yet, all the essays, be they about films, time, or risk, look at bodies and at intimacies in the political economy of global financial capital. ‘How do discourses of risk, protection, and insurance join sexuality to capital, producing “risky subjects” imbued with finance? How do sexual economies fuse into moral and political economies?’ (p. 280). For a public health worker, the links are very clear. The concept of risk in public health was reified precisely at the time of the AIDS and Tuberculosis pandemic, when neo-liberalism was reshaping both the understanding of health itself, and the provisioning of health services. The earlier understanding of public health was that health of communities was socially determined by political and economic structures, that health was a public good, to be provided by the welfare state. The reshaping that took place in the light of the new disease, HIV-AIDS, sexually transmitted, was that health was an individual responsibility, that disease was caused by ‘risky behaviours’ and that health was a commodity to be purchased in the market. At the same time, initially, HIV-AIDS was considered a disease of the gay community, a punishment for sodomite sins, and for drug addiction, affecting the dregs of society, something no country need be bothered about. Yet when the disease was seen to cross gender and class barriers, the public health world stood up and started responding to it with the discourse of reproductive health and rights. This was also precisely the time of the LGBT revolution, when sexual identity came to be foregrounded and reified, when NGOs dealing with issues of same-sex desire, HIV and reproductive rights were awash with funds so that today we have in India more NGOs than hospital beds. HIV-AIDS was privileged over health in general, leading again to a vertical programme. The imbrications of finance and capital have a long history as does the policing of sexuality. It was the colonial state, intent on extraction ...


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