“As HIV/AIDS nears three decades of response and intervention, theoretically engaged scholarly commentary on the topic is on the wane. We make that judgment with care, wary of the dangers of nostalgia and its diminishment of the present against an unequaled, heroic past. We recognize the fine work on HIV and AIDS currently being carried out by anthropologists, cultural critics, sociologists and others addressing, among other questions, the biopolitical dimensions of national and global responses to HIV… Notwithstanding these contributions, we have sensed in our teaching, writing and broader work environments a certain disinterest, even closure of thought around HIV/AIDS….
At least three developments sourced in evidence-based medicine create troubles for the type of scholarly work promoted by this special issue. First, the injunction to base all manner of health decisions on scientific research introduces a hierarchy of evidence that privileges clinical trials research and, in the realm of ‘social’ research, epidemiology and positivist social science. Second, it creates a new demand structure for the forms of research that it values. This has involved shifts in funding that promote a narrow vision of applied health research and a consolidation of biomedical and health sciences criteria of research review. Finally, evidence-based medicine has generated new expectations for how research will be used, which restrict appreciation of the value of critical, theoretically informed scholarship. The applied project of knowledge ‘transfer’ or ‘translation’ discounts relations of knowledge use that aim at questioning or critiquing existing arrangements, instead imagining research as an information product or output that can guide the individual decisions of state policy-makers, health professionals and other ‘key stakeholders.’
This special issue of Social Theory and Health intervenes in the contemporary knowledge relations shaping HIV social research. It provides space for social and cultural inquiry of HIV/AIDS that foregrounds theoretical reflection and discourse. We view theoretically reflexive work on HIV from the social sciences and humanities as important contributions in and of themselves, as well as fundamental contributions to contemporary thought and action on HIV/AIDS in its multiple dimensions,” (Mykhalovskiy & Rosengarten 2009).
V K Nguyen, “Government-by-exception: Enrolment and experimentality in mass HIV treatment programmes in Africa.”
Gary W Dowsett, “Dangerous desires and post-queer HIV prevention: Rethinking community, incitement and intervention.”
Jorge Fontdevila, “Framing dilemmas during sex: A micro-sociological approach to HIV risk.”
The editors have also put together a set of interviews with leading social scientists working on HIV/AIDS, which they present as “Commentaries on the nature of social and cultural research: Interviews on HIV/AIDS with Judy Auerbach, Susan Kippax, Steven Epstein, Didier Fassin, Barry Adam and Dennis Altman.”
- Therapeutic Enclaves in Central Mozambique? Lives Saved, Livelihoods Lost
- From saving lives to cutting costs? Challenges for a new era for activism
- “Abstinence doesn’t work, so use condoms”: Critical responses to Christian youth sexualities and HIV prevention in Africa
- Daniel Jordan Smith’s AIDS Doesn’t Show Its Face: Inequality, Morality, and Social Change in Nigeria
- Susan Reynolds Whyte's Second Chances: Surviving AIDS in Uganda