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Strong Bonds, Affective Labour: Sexually Transmitted Infections and the Work of History

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Rachel E. Holmes.

In this talk, Dr McKay will draw upon his experiences as a researcher investigating the recent history of health and disease among gay men and other men who had sex with men. He will reflect on his work on ‘Patient Zero’, the individual incorrectly and posthumously vilified as the man to introduce HIV to North America. He will also speak about his current Wellcome Trust-funded study, the Before HIV project, which investigates the processes by which the same-sex transmission of venereal disease emerged as a public health concern in the middle of the twentieth century. He will consider the ways in which his historical practice has had to engage with the scientific establishment—in co-authoring a study eventually published in ‘Nature’, and in navigating an NHS ethics review process intended primarily for the evaluation of clinical trials. In doing so, Dr McKay will look to find ways of articulating a distinctive humanistic value for historical investigation, one not in service to but in partnership with scientific research.

This talk is part of the Wolfson College Humanities Society talks series.

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