Society for Medical Anthropology
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
The sexual health care and education of newcomers to Canada has been the subject of concern, concern which invariably gets tied to discourses of culture, race, and religion. While one could argue that the sexual health of newcomers has been the subject of considerable attention, including categorizing them as at-risk/risky and explaining the need for intervention in terms of the social determinants of health, an ethnographic exploration of culturally-sensitive sexual health care and education is noticeably absent. Without such research, the ways in which sexual health and culture get entangled in public discourse remains unchallenged. In my doctoral project, I looked at the sexual health landscape of Toronto, Ontario in order to better understand how newcomer women navigate it, as well as how those working in this field understand their role. My paper argues that how “culturally-sensitive” care and education is envisioned by sexual health social actors and how it is put into practice does not always neatly align. In this sense, the term “culturally-sensitive” becomes a constantly shifting cultural object in and of itself, wherein moral investments are made. I will discuss how understandings and beliefs related to sexual health have become tied to particular notions of culture, juxtaposing this against the mobilization of anti-immigrant rhetoric in Ontario, in order to reveal that complicated and nuanced understandings of sex and sexuality cannot be reduced to simplistic “best practices” recommendations.