Making up MSM
Medicine Anthropology Theory
How does an epidemiological category such as 'MSM' circulate across global health contexts? In what ways is this label implicated in and productive of global health knowledgemaking practices? The papers in this special section take up these questions by showing how the MSM category, across an array of social, cultural, and political backdrops, comes into existence as a 'category, thing, technology' (see Biruk, this issue), and especially as a vital or doing thing (see Boyce and Cataldo, this
... nd Cataldo, this issue; Lorway, this issue). Rather than reiterate the already well-documented and important scholarly work detailing the (mis)uses of this category in global public health1 -a critique that stresses the erasure of lived realities that should be recognized to better understand people and promote sexual health -the contributions to this special section focus on the more 'ontological' materiality of 'MSM' and the work it does as it travels. That is to say, what comes of 'MSM' being in the world; and how does 'MSM' in turn call for new kinds of becomings? In short, our starting point for this special section extends beyond what MSM does not do, and instead emphasizes what it has done and can do. These contributions, then, examine the ontology of the term 'MSM': what it does and what it becomes in the concrete world of health and development interventions.