Lessons learnt from contemporary moral panics – Auckland May 18

Professor Gilbert HerdtMoral and sex panics have been employed on a national scale to undermine sexual, gender and reproductive rights according to an American authority on sexuality. Professor Gilbert Herdt from San Francisco State University will give a public lecture at The University of Auckland this month on the lessons learnt around moral and sexual panic from the last quarter century.

“Such panics date back to the late 18th century,” says Professor Herdt, though over the last quarter century “waves of sexual panics have focused explicitly on abortion rights, sex education and abstinence, and the role of homosexuality in the national debate over gay civil rights.”

Mark Busse, senior lecturer in Social Anthropology at The University of Auckland says: “Gilbert Herdt has been at the forefront of research on gender and sexuality for almost thirty years. His landmark research among Sambia in Papua New Guinea demonstrated both how human sexuality is culturally shaped and the critical role of comparative anthropological research in understanding the human condition. His more recent research on sexuality and politics in the United States shows the importance of anthropological perspectives for understanding contemporary events in Western societies.”

Professor Maureen Molloy from Women’s Studies at the University says: “Professor Herdts work on sexuality in the Pacific opened up new fields of enquiry. He challenges us all to think about the relations between gender, sexuality and culture in new and more complex ways.”

Dr Gilbert Herdt is a cultural and clinical anthropologist, Professor and Founder of the Department of Sexuality Studies at San Francisco State University and Director of the National Sexuality Resource Center. He has conducted major fieldwork in Papua New Guinea (1974-1993), Chicago (1986-1989), and the Bay Area of California (2000-2001) on issues of sexuality, sexual orientation development, sexual health and policy.

Professor Herdt’s work on the Sambia of Papua New Guinea was among the foundational works on sexual identity in the field of anthropology, and his work on gay and lesbian identity development in Chicago was the first major nonclinical community-based study in the United States. He has published 24 scientific books and more than 100 scientific peer-reviewed journal articles.

Public lecture:

  • Moral/ Sexual Panics and Rights: Lessons learned from the past quarter century
  • Tuesday May 18, 6pm
  • Theatre 401, School of Engineering, 20 Symonds Street
  • The University of Auckland
  • Sponsored by the Departments of Anthropology and Women’s Studies in the Faculty of Arts

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