AIDS and the Body Politic: Biomedicine and Sexual Difference by Catherine Waldby

By Catherine Waldby

This publication demonstates the level to which establis hed rules concerning the virus, the immune method, the HIV try out and the epidemiology of the ailment depend on unexamined, conservative assumptions approximately sexual id and sexual distinction.

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Extra resources for AIDS and the Body Politic: Biomedicine and Sexual Difference (Writing Corporealities)

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They write: Once the statement begins to stabilise [it]…becomes a split entity. On the one hand, it is a set of words which represents a statement about an object. On the other hand it corresponds to an object in itself which takes on a life of its own…. Before long, more and more reality is attributed to the object and less and less to the statement about the object. Consequently, an inversion takes place: the object becomes the reason why the statement was formulated in the first place. At the onset of stabilisation, the object was the virtual image of the statement; subsequently, the statement becomes the mirror-image of the reality ‘out there’.

The stabilising and defining object of the biomedical sciences is the human body considered as a unified physical, material entity. Located as a naturally given scientific object, human bodies are understood by biomedicine as organic ‘matter’, as stuff whose form and behaviour are determined by natural processes of evolution and decay. This relegation of human bodies to the status of matter demands that other less fixed bodily meanings be actively refused. Grosz comments on the way that the natural sciences drain the possibility of historically mutable, unstable or subjective meanings from human bodies, in order to render them coherent objects for systematic forms of scientific knowledge.

The HIV infected are subjects who publicly bear witness to the mortality of us all, and to the inability of medicine to find a cure for this ultimate encroachment of nature upon culture. 2 Consequently, biomedicine’s strategies to control the AIDS epidemic and reassert the division between nature and culture do not ‘target’ the virus alone, but rather ‘target’ the person as viral agent. They inscribe themselves upon the bodies and desires of the infected and the potentially infected. It is at this point—the characterisation of certain bodies as hybrids caught on the threshold between nature and culture—that biomedicine can be understood as a political practice.

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