Course Catalog

01:988:332 The Color of AIDS: The Politics of Race During the AIDS Crisis


In recent years, the visibility of people of color (particulary women and children) infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS in the United States, and elsewhere, has sparked discussions of the ways in which individual and structural factors shape people’s negotiation of risk, protection, mobilization, access to care and medication. This course focuses on the representation of AIDS in scholarly, popular and community discussions. One of our key concerns will the degree to which race thinking has shaped and continues to shape the representation of communities and the solutions identified in response to challenges. Our work will begin by placing the discussion of AIDS within a framework of contested social meanings of illness and deviance, or what Paula Treichler has aptly called “an epidemic of signification.” We will explore linkages between how we imagine and represent illness and already existing notions of racial difference. Discussions of selected moments throughout the crisis will help us understand debates about the meanings of blackness, from the designation of Haitians as a risk group in the earliest stages of the epidemic to current debates about AIDS in Africa as well as the role of African-American males in the US epidemic. Discussions of gender, sexuality, and the status of AIDS among some US-based communities of color will help foreground the problematic nature of “culture” and “visibility” in health policy, research and care provision.