From ritual sex to sexual individuality: Tradition and modernity in Sambia sexual culture

Event type: Public lecture

Event date: Wednesday, 11 July 2012 - 6:00pm to 7:00pm

Event venue: Hedley Bull Lecture Theatre 1, ANU

Professor Gilbert Herdt (San Francisco State University) is a cultural anthropologist, Professor of Human Sexuality Studies and Anthropology, Founder of the Department of Sexuality Studies at San Francisco State University, and Founder of the National Sexuality Resource Center (NSRC) in the United States. He is an international expert on culture, sexuality, and gender, child and adolescent sexual identity development, sexual orientation, lesbian gay bisexual transgender aging, sexual literacy and sexual rights. Professor Herdt has conducted major fieldwork in Papua New Guinea, Chicago, and the Bay Area of California on issues of sexuality, sexual orientation development, sexual health and policy. He has published thirty-three books and edited anthologies and over one hundred peer-reviewed journal articles, chapters, and scholarly reports. Professor Herdt’s research on male initiation rites among the Sambia of Papua New Guinea in the early 1970s was among the first major foundational works on sexual identity in the field of anthropology. He returned to PNG in 2010 to research the changing conditions of sexuality, gender, HIV, and modernity among the Sambia people and is at work on his new book, The Singers Are Gone, an account of these changes over the last thirty-five years. What role does sexual individuality play in the advance of modernity? Gilbert Herdt looks back at traditional sexual culture, with its secret ritual initiations, gender segregation and arranged marriage, and hegemonic authority of the men’s house and warriorhood. He then examines the remarkable transformations among the present day Sambia people of Papua New Guinea. He theorizes the character of pre-modern and modern sexual life through examination of such issues as the change in attitudes toward ritualized boy-insemination, female sexual autonomy, and HIV/AIDS.

Co-sponsored by ANU Gender Institute and ARC Laureate Engendering Persons, Transforming Things: Christianities, Commodities and Individualism in Oceania.

Realted event with - Book launch: Engendering Violence in Papua New Guinea

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Updated:  7 November 2012/Responsible Officer:  Convenor, Gender Institute/Page Contact:  Web manager, Gender Institute