University of Virginia, College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Jarrett Zigon

Jarrett Zigon

William and Linda Porterfield Chair of Biomedical Ethics and Professor of Anthropology, Department of Anthropology


Moral-Political Subjectivity in the Global HIV/AIDS Pandemic

Throughout the course of the year I would like to ask the following question: what kinds of politico-moral persons are constituted in institutional contexts that combine human rights and personal responsibility approaches to health, and how these kinds of subjectivities relate to local, national, and global forms of the politico-moral represented in health policies? To do so I will draw from research data that I have accumulated over the past twelve years through transnational, multi-sited ethnographic studies of moral and political subjectivity in HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs. This research was carried out in some of the world’s most active contexts of international, national, and local collaboration in the response to either large or rapidly growing HIV/AIDS epidemics - Indonesia (Bali), South Africa (the Western Cape), the United States (New York City), Canada (Vancouver), and Russia (St. Petersburg). HIV/AIDS programs in each of these locations increasingly and ambiguously combine human rights and personal responsibility approaches to treatment and prevention, two approaches which until recently were considered incompatible. Therefore, they provide opportunity to ask questions such as: Are there more distal, non-health related consequences of the therapeutic practices of local HIV/AIDS programs that inadvertently shape the political and moral subjectivities of participants in such programs? If so, are they related to the particular combination of moral discourses (human rights, personal responsibility, and local) underlying the therapeutic approach? How are any such consequences experienced by participants and how have they altered their everyday social and political interactions in their networks and communities?