Death Matters pp 129-150 | Cite as

Viral Desires: Enjoyment and Death in the Contemporary Discourse on Barebacking

  • Fredrik PalmEmail author


In an extreme form of barebacking, “bug chasing” denotes a sexual practice in which individuals not infected by HIV consciously expose themselves to the virus through unprotected sex with infected partners. This phenomenon has recently received much attention in queer studies, and this chapter addresses how the most important account of bug chasing to date, queer theorist Tim Dean’s book Unlimited Intimacy (2009), negotiates boundaries of sexuality and death. In particular, it interrogates Dean’s claim that the aim of the practice is to gain a sense of unlimited intimacy that would transcend the individual risk of physical death, and it argues that Dean idealizes barebacking, suppressing the role of death in sexual excitement.


Barebacking Bug chasing Desire Sexual excitement Tim Dean Psychoanalysis 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden

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