Is it agency? An integrative interpretation of female adolescents’ sexual behaviour in three remote Australian Aboriginal communities

Victoria Burbank, Kate Senior, Susan McMullen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    In this paper we attempt to understand at least some of the complex and interacting forces – cultural, biological, developmental and historical – that influence adolescents’ sexual behaviour in three remote Australian Aboriginal communities. We use the concept of ‘agency’ only as a foil for our interpretation. Drawing upon ethnographic material, we focus on: ‘walkin’ around at night’, avoidance of arranged marriages and the exchange of sexual favours for drugs and money. Cognitive, evolutionary, and neuroscience enable us to illustrate the interpenetration of sociocultural and psychobiological factors in adolescent girls’ behaviour: expectations about marriage, a desire for love, sexual urges, a brain that is highly responsive to peers and rewards, a disadvantaged and uncertain environment, and challenges to effective adult control.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)316-331
    Number of pages16
    JournalAustralian Journal of Anthropology
    Volume29
    Issue number3
    Early online date14 Sep 2018
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018

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