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Biosecurity and the international response to HIV/AIDS: governmentality, globalisation and security

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A growing critical literature examines the rise of biosecurity. HIV/AIDS has been mentioned in this literature as a biosecurity issue, but despite its importance as a major global health problem, the ways in which HIV/AIDS might be considered a matter of biosecurity have not been explored in depth. This article addresses this issue, particularly in relation to the international response to HIV/AIDS, through the conceptual prism of governmentality and in relation to concerns about globalisation and security. Following a discussion of the relevance of governmentality to research on the intersections between globalisation and security, the article considers biosecurity and the international response to HIV/AIDS in terms of modes of problematisation and institutionalisation. In terms of problematisation, it argues that while some biosecurity issues and HIV/AIDS have been addressed as emergencies, the characteristics of anticipation, preparedness, emergence and pre-emption, which are central to the dominant formation of biosecurity, are less relevant to HIV/AIDS. As the article shows, the two fields have also been institutionalised in rather distinct ways. It therefore cautions against regarding the international response to HIV/AIDS as a biosecurity intervention. In conclusion, the article identifies three broad avenues for further research: unpacking the politics of global health and security during recession; engaging with theoretical debates around governmentality; and engaging with problems of space.
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Keywords: HIV/AIDS; biosecurity; globalisation; governmentality; security

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: UCL, Department of Geography, London WC1H 0AP, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2010-09-01

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