The Birth of the (Gay) Clinic

Published: April 3, 2014

Abstract

We apply and extend Philo (2000)?s arguments about Foucault?s Birth of the Clinic as an inspiration for health geography and the study of governance of gays. Philo identified three spaces through which he argued disease is framed: disease tabled, embodied, and institutionalized. These focus attention on the spatialities through which the medical gaze is power-laden. We adopt this framework empirically through an historical geography of an urban public health system engaged with sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the "homosexual" population of Seattle, Washington in the 1970s. It reveals the interaction of homophobia, heteronormativity and resistances across places typically understudied in queer historical geography. Our findings also extend this framework, however, by revealing other spaces that were important in the urban politics of sexual health: the gay city, the gay doctor, and the gay community. We suggest, therefore, that these and other spaces may be helpful in other health geographies interested in the dynamics of sexuality, governmentality, and urban public health.

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