The Body with AIDS: A Post-Structuralist Analysis [Book Chapter]

The Body with AIDS: A Post-Structuralist Analysis [Book Chapter]


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Chapter from The Body in Medical Thought and Practice, edited by Drew Leder.

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The epidemic of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is one of the most significant threats to health in the United States in the latter part of the century. While medical researchers scurry to find ways to arrest AIDS-related infection in the body, scholars in the humanities have been at work analyzing a crisis of representation in academia, manifested by recent theories of interpretation (e.g., deconstruction, post-structuralism, post-modernism). In the epistemic epidemic, the vitality of our conceptual framework, the ways we know, and the means by which we interpret cultural experience are under siege. These two epidemics have much to do with each other, not only because of their synchronicity, but also because breakthroughs in ways of understanding cultural experience affect our interpretations of health and disease. One person whose life was caught up in both epidemics was Michel Foucault. Foucault was a leading French post-structuralist, perhaps the most notable French philosopher since Sartre. He was also involved in gay liberation struggles and the first intellectual of international importance to die of AIDS, a disease that is, not infrequently sexually transmitted, and in the U.S. was first diagnosed in and disproportionately affects gay men. Foucault’s death brought to an end his three-volume study of sexuality, a work which leaves no hint that it was written during an epidemic, and bears no mention of sexually transmitted disease. Yet, his writings on the whole lend themselves to analyses of the AIDS epidemic.



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Kluwer Academic




Human Immunodeficiency Virus, HIV, Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection, Homeless Youth, Human Immunodeficiency Virus Transmission, Human Immunodeficiency Virus Treatment, Foucault, post-structuralism


Diseases | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Immune System Diseases | Medicine and Health Sciences | Philosophy

The Body with AIDS: A Post-Structuralist Analysis [Book Chapter]

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