During the last decade few topics have provoked more controversy and a larger storm of research in anthropology and demography than the analysis of sexual risk behaviour in the global spread of sexually transmitted diseases. This thematic has been of special interest to the Committee on Anthropological Demography ( International Union for the Scientific Study of Population), because of the intersection of the critical demographic interest in fertility and migration, and the new- found anthropological research on AIDS and sexuality. Demographers and anthropologists alike have found themselves caught up in an explosion of international research and education campaigns to prevent the spread of the disease. This research has included study of cross-cultural migration, new sexual practices and the commercial sex trade, and the spread of HIV/AIDS across subgroups, ethnic boundaries, cultural regions, and international borders. The transnational spread of the disease has stimulated a new dialogue between the fields of anthropology and demography and that of epidemiology, where organizations such as the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control have carried out surveys on the impact of human movement and sexual disease on demographic behaviours. However, it remains for anthropological demography to assist in the creation of models that integrate field methodology and qualitative data with extensive data panels for the purpose of conceptualizing the larger map of issues.
The contents of this book result from a conference convened in Bangkok, Thailand, in March 1994, which was broadly concerned with the relationship between migration and sexual practices, and AIDS in developing countries. The conference was organized by the IUSSP in cooperation with the Institute of Population Studies of Chulalongkorn University. Many research scholars made presentations and a variety of observers were also present for the meetings and intensive study workshops. The definition of sexual culture and social-historical formations that result in sexual encounters and the interruption of fertility behaviour across cultural boundaries were of particular interest to the symposium. The conference was an initiative of the Committee on Anthropological Demography, a research group attached to the IUSSP.
The meeting was organized and chaired by Dr Gilbert Herdt, an anthropologist on the Committee for Human Development of the University of Chicago. Dr Alaka Basu (Chair) and Dr Kim Streatrim of the Committee on Demographic Anthropology, and the late Mr Bruno Remiche, Executive Director of the IUSSP, participated. The meeting was funded under the auspices of the IUSSP and was