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Max Schnepf

Max Schnepf

Freie Universität Berlin

International Summer and Winter University



Max Schnepf (he/him): I am a Queer and Medical Anthropologist working as a research associate at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology (Freie Universität Berlin). I am interested in intimate entanglements of biomedical technologies and configurations of gender, sexuality, and desire. In my PhD project, I am conducting ethnographic fieldwork on PrEP (Preexposure-Prophylaxis), a new and highly effective drug to prevent an HIV infection. I am interested in the social and political effects of this pharmaceutical prevention method in Berlin – how it affects sexual cultures, resurfaces memories of the beginnings of HIV/AIDS, rekindles discussions on responsibility and promiscuity, and rearranges intimate encounters.

Current FUBiS courses:

2022-present: Research associate within the research project “PrEPped Intimacies in Berlin” (Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Freie Universität Berlin)

2020-2022: Research associate with teaching duties (Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Freie Universität Berlin)

Themes and Theories in Social and Cultural Anthropology, fall term 2021/2021, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Freie Universität Berlin

Anthropology of Pharmaceuticals, spring term 2021, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Freie Universität Berlin

Anthropology and Intimacy, fall term 2020/2021, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Freie Universität Berlin

Methods of Social and Cultural Anthropology (Übung/tutorial), spring term 2020, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Freie Universität Berlin

Social Sciences, fall term 2019/2020, HMKW University of Applied Sciences for Media, Communication and Management, Campus Berlin

Body, technology, knowledge: Approaches in feminist science and technology studies, fall term 2017/2018, co-taught reading group with Maja Sisnowski, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Freie Universität Berlin

Project “PrEPped Intimacies in Berlin

PrEP – “Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis” – is a new biotechnology that, if taken regularly, protects effectively against an HIV infection. In Germany, PrEP has been available on prescription since October 2016 and it is covered by public insurance as of September 2019, inciting new discussions about what constitutes “safer sex” and “risky behavior” as well as concerns about increasing infection rates with other sexually transmitted infections. My PhD project aims at situating PrEP as well as the discourses and practices surrounding it in the lives of gay men in Berlin, who constitute the main user group of PrEP. Attending to how sexual subjectivities and queer intimacy are shaped and transformed in relation to this new biotechnology, I ask: How do gay men in Berlin perceive themselves as sexual beings, enter in intimate contacts, relate to discourses about “at risk populations,” and deal with HIV/AIDS-related stigmata?

Journal articles

2022 “Chemical becoming: Embodied moments of urban belonging in Berlin [Chemisch-Werden: Verkörperte Momente urbaner Zugehörigkeit in Berlin].” sub\urban 10 (2/3): 17-42. https://doi.org/10.36900/suburban.v10i2/3.762 

2022 (with U. Probst) “Moral Exposures, Public Appearances: Contested Presences of Non-Normative Sex in Pandemic Berlin.” European Journal of Women's Studies 29 (1): 75-89. https://doi.org/10.1177/13505068221076386 

2020 “Camp at the Salon: Anthropological Sense-Making with a Wink.” Etnofoor 32 (2): 83-98. https://www.jstor.org/stable/26964289

Blog posts

2022 “In Suhbet with Queer Companions: An Affectionate Book Review.” AnthroDesires: gender & sexualities in context.

2020 “Back home to normal? Emerging spaces of queer intimacy and ethnographic pathways.” Boasblog: Fieldwork meets crisis.

2020 (with U. Probst) “Thinking sex in times of corona: A conversation.” Somatosphere: Science, Medicine, and Anthropology

2017 “Enacting the homosexual body: The Turkish military’s practice of ‘proving’ homosexuality through rectal examinations.” Blog Medizinethnologie.


2020 (with H. Dilger) Alternative Gesundheitsvorstellungen und -praktiken in der deutschen Therapielandschaft: Bericht zur Literaturrecherche ‘Vielfalt im Gesundheitswesen’ im Auftrag der Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH. Berlin.

2019 (with K. Buchner) “Where is my mind? Ecologies of healing and care in more-than-human worlds.” Curare: Journal of Medical Anthropology 42 (1+2): 125-31. (online on Blog Medizinethnologie)

2019 (with U. Probst and K. Buchner). “Creative methods and participatory arts research in medical anthropology: Conference report of the 9th MAYS meeting.” Blog Medizinethnologie.

2017 “Transfigurations in/of medical anthropology in Switzerland, Austria, and Germany.” Medicine Anthropology Theory 4 (4).