Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, Sociology, Brandeis University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2012
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Sociology, University of California / Berkeley
Viral Politics: AIDS, Public Health, and Citizenship in India and South Africa

This project uses multi-sited ethnographic methods to study the ways in which the response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, in relation to gendered, sexualized, and racialized political structures in India and South Africa, shaped new kinds of citizenship claims in each place. India and South Africa provide useful cases for comparison because, though both have large epidemics, their HIV/AIDS responses differ historically and structurally. In India, the state has opened itself up to a neoliberal biomedical, NGO-driven understanding of the disease, and HIV/AIDS funding and expertise come largely from Northern donors; in South Africa, the state has attempted to define AIDS on broader social terms, and the response has drawn largely on domestic funding. South Africa also mounted a full-scale response to HIV/AIDS later in the course of its epidemic than did India. My project will examine qualitatively the ways in which these differences shape the terrain on which risk groups are defined and how those risk groups turn their status into claims for economic and political rights. Paradoxically, given the orientations of their national states, in South Africa, AIDS activism has centered on treatment and biomedicine; in India, it has coalesced in broader claims from marginalized groups for collective well-being. Tracing the relationships between both public health discourses and/or flows of public health funding as they move from South Africa to India and back, and from global institutions to local groups and back, will allow me to chart how social movements formulate and contest discursive frames and strategies over time, working across scales and constituencies. My project sits at the intersection of political sociology, medical sociology, and the sociologies of culture and gender, and promises to yield important insights into processes of global social movement formation and transnational feminisms.