St. Mary's College of Maryland

Faculty Highlight

Libby Nutt Williams

Dr. Libby Nutt Williams

Dr. Libby Williams has been elected the 2013 Woman of the Year for the Section for the Advancement of Women (SAW) of the Society of Counseling Psychology at the American Psychological Association. Congratulations, Libby!

Annual Colloquium - 2012
Going Viral: Thirty Years of Living with HIV/AIDS


Dr. Shanti Parikh
Shanti Parikh Associate Professor, Sociocultural Anthropology and African and African-American Studies
Washington University 

"Regulating Romance:  Youth Sexual Culture, Moral Anxiety, and Love Letters in Uganda’s Time of AIDS"

Uganda is regularly touted as Africa’s leading HIV success story. Policies, programs and interventions to combat the epidemic have been in place for nearly 20 years and the country’s ABC approach (abstinence, be faithful, use condoms) has been replicated in various forms worldwide. Yet relatively no attention has been paid to the effects that Uganda’s aggressive and bold HIV campaign—or, a “going public” of sex—have had on local landscapes of sexuality. Parikh will consider ways in which Uganda’s HIV campaign has unintentionally heighted anxiety around adolescent sexuality in local communities, and particularly sexuality of unmarried young woman, leading to tensions between generations and genders. Based on ten years of ethnographic research in a town in eastern-central Uganda, this talk demonstrates how during times of increased anxiety about sexuality, the adolescent female body becomes a public platform through which conflicting views about what it means to be a proper, modern, and culturally-appropriate sexual being are articulated. While the adolescent female body is the subject to intense surveillance and scrutiny, the young male body is rendered an emasculated nuisance to the sexual privilege of older men. Within this context emerge new forms of regulation and subsequently new avenues of sexual risk for youth.  Finally, through an analysis of over 300 love letters exchanged by young people, this talk examines young people’s notions of desire, hope and fear as they come of age in a time of HIV-related death and anxiety. 

Dr. Parikh's research focuses on the intersection of local transformations; global processes; and structures of inequalities surrounding issues of sexuality, particularly gender, sexual and reproductive health, regulation, courtship and romance, and marriage. Using ethnographic and historical methods and critical theory, her research in eastern Uganda focuses on how regimes of regulation and discourses of sexuality have shifted since independence and, more recently, during the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Theoretical questions revolve around how differentiated actors appropriate increasingly accessible, yet often contradictory, images and discourses of sexuality into their everyday debates, conversations, and ideas of sexual relationships. She  highlights the ways in which various state, family, health, and local agents attempt to regulate meanings of sexuality and how such struggles are connected to increased anxiety stimulated by sexual health concerns, commercialization of the local economy, and Uganda's connection to global cultural flows. Her current work examines youth romance as written in their love letters, and attempts to regulate sexuality through the age of consent law. She pays particular attention to the articulations of historic inequalities such as sex, age, and class in sexual relationships.

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Go back to the 2012 Colloquium