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Feminizing risk at a distance: critical observations on the constitution of a preventive technology for HIV/AIDS

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Distance is a key idea in contemporary literatures on geography and the government of risk, and it is central to the work presented in this paper, which focuses on Western media representations of an innovative 'first-generation' non-contraceptive microbicide, Carraguard. A preventive technology that has been developed under the auspices of the US Population Council and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Carraguard is represented in the media in ways that produce certain noteworthy cultural geographies of HIV/AIDS. Via an analysis of a selection of such media representations of Carraguard, and focusing on sexual citizenship, political subjectivity and three socio-spatial orderings of risk (displacement, replacement and reorientation), we posit that Carraguard has effected a feminization of the government of risk at a distance. Specifically, we contend that HIV/AIDS has been displaced from the marginalized spaces of metropolitan centres of the West and replaced at the world's under-developed margins, being reoriented from dangerousness/deviance and the masculine to risk and the feminine in that process. In this work, we have taken up Dean's (1999) call to use an analytics of government to highlight the effects of certain ways of thinking and acting, and have also sought to respond to observations by Craddock (2000) that the silences in geography about HIV/AIDS and the regional coordinates of risk and vulnerability need to be addressed. In the final analysis, it appears that media representations of Carraguard reproduce and intensify much older geopolitical and socio-spatial orderings and relations of power that give effect to conceptions and practices of political obligation and sexual citizenship.

Keywords: Carraguard; displacement/replacement/reorientation; distance; feminization; media; risk

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: School of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart TAS, Australia

Publication date: June 1, 2008

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