Undoing Masculinities: Chemical sexualities among young men in Papua

This seminar presents the use of a wide array of drugs, cosmetics, or other products to enhance sex and the penis, which I term ‘chemical sexualities’, among young men in Jayapura city and Sentani town of Papua, Indonesia. Jayapura and Sentani are places where young people across West Papua and other parts of Indonesia migrate to seek employment opportunities and to pursue education, particularly after the implementation of Special Autonomy decentralisation policy in Papua.

The efforts to enhance male sexual performances in Southeast Asia and Melanesia have been addressed by previous studies, however the ways in which the practices of enhancing sex and the penis are entangled in the contemporary rapid transformation of young men’s daily lives and masculinities have been little studied. Drawing on a recently completed 12-month ethnographic study, I highlight how chemical sexualities are conceived and used as technologies to reinvigorate masculinities in the midst of precarious lives in Papua. In this seminar, I shall present my key findings on the multiplicity of masculinities, the use of chemical sexualities among young men aged 18-35, their narratives of sex, and insecurities in their daily lives. These findings show how practices of chemical sexualities and performance of masculinities are entangled in an unstable place.

Diana Teresa Pakasi is visiting SSGM from June-July 2016. She is a PhD candidate at the University of Amsterdam. Her research is part of the ChemicalYouth Project. More information about the project: http://www.chemicalyouth.org

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