The Sexualities Project at Northwestern (SPAN) was created in 2010 following the establishment of a new endowment at Northwestern intended to support research and education on “life sciences, biomedical sciences and social sciences as those fields relate to the study of human sexual orientation and human sexuality.” Working together with a diverse group of Northwestern faculty members, co-directors Héctor Carrillo and Steven Epstein proposed a new initiative, which was funded by the Provost for an initial period of three years (2010-13) and has been renewed for an additional five years (2013-2018).
Issues related to sexuality and sexual identity invites apparently inexhaustible public debate about the political and cultural implications of sexual diversity and its relationship to morality, equality, and social justice. Yet, we lack fundamental knowledge about many central aspects of the social structuring of sexual identity and the social and cultural implications of sexual practice. A pivotal and consequential example of this lack concerns the tightly intertwined social, psychological, biological, and biomedical factors that link sexuality and sexual orientation with health. SPAN is a broad-ranging initiative to promote research and education on sexual orientation and health in social context. While anchored in social scientific frameworks (including scholarship on identity, rights, policy, and immigration), the initiative is intended to be broadly interdisciplinary.
SPAN is located within the Gender & Sexuality Studies Program but operates in conjunction with Cells to Society (C2S): The Center on Social Disparities and Health at the Institute for Policy Research as well as the Science in Human Culture Program (SHC). It therefore marks a unique collaboration among three interdisciplinary campus units.
Héctor Carrillo is Associate Professor of Sociology and Gender & Sexuality Studies at Northwestern. He is also a member of the governing council of the Latina and Latino Studies program. He is a Faculty Associate in Cells to Society (C2S): The Center on Social Disparities and Health at the Institute for Policy Research, and a member of the Center for Forced Migration Studies at the Buffett Center for International and Comparative Studies.
Professor Carrillo studies the intersections between sexuality, migration, and health, with a particular focus on gay and bisexual male Mexican immigrants living in the United States. He also studies the sexual identities of heterosexually-identified men who are sexually attracted to other men, and the cultural meanings attached to adult male circumcision as an HIV prevention strategy among Mexican male and female immigrants. He is the author of The Night Is Young: Sexuality in Mexico in the Time of AIDS (University of Chicago Press, 2002).
Carrillo serves on the advisory boards of the journals Sexualities, Sexuality Research & Social Policy, and Sexualidad, Salud y Sociedad: Revista Latinoamericana. He is a council member of the Sexualities Section of the American Sociological Association; served on the selection committee for the Social Science Research Council’s Sexuality Research Fellowship Program; and served on the Faculty Consortium Steering Committee and the Consortium Group on Sexuality Research Training of the National Sexuality Resource Center (NSRC). Carrillo was co-chair of the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Science track for the XVII International AIDS Conference, which took place in Mexico City in August 2008.
Steven Epstein is Professor of Sociology and John C. Shaffer Professor in the Humanities at Northwestern. He is a former director of the Science in Human Culture Program and the interdisciplinary graduate cluster in Science Studies. He is a faculty member at the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, a faculty affiliate in the Gender & Sexuality Studies Program, and a Faculty Associate in Cells to Society (C2S): The Center on Social Disparities and Health at the Institute for Policy Research.
Professor Epstein studies the contested production of knowledge, especially biomedical knowledge, with an emphasis on the interplay of social movements, experts, and health institutions, and with a focus on the politics of sexuality, gender, and race. He is the author of Impure Science: AIDS, Activism, and the Politics of Knowledge (University of California Press, 1996) and Inclusion: The Politics of Difference in Medical Research (University of Chicago Press, 2007). He is a co-editor of Three Shots at Prevention: The HPV Vaccine and the Politics of Medicine’s Simple Solutions.
Epstein serves on the advisory board of the journal Sexualities; is a former Council member of the American Sociological Association’s Section on Sexualities; served on the selection committee for the Social Science Research Council’s Sexuality Research Fellowship Program; and served on the American Sociological Association Committee on the Status of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Persons in Sociology.
Leadership in conducting SPAN activities is also provided by
For general and technical questions relating to SPAN, please contact Eliot Colin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may also reach us at:
The Sexualities Project at Northwestern (SPAN)