Power and community in AIDS public policy
In 1993, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) implemented a national level policy initiative for HIV/AIDS prevention. The initiative, referred to as "community planning", was intended to ensure the implementation of effective HIV prevention programming through direct involvement in resource allocation decisions of HIV-infected persons and representatives of at risk communities. This dissertation examines how federal HIV/AIDS policy constructs community, how participants in HIV prevention community planning themselves understand and articulate community, and the extent to which there is congruence between the two perspectives. In this dissertation, I also examine the linkage between community and social identity, specifically as it relates to the exercise of power. In doing so, I explore knowledge as it relates to the construction and articulation of social identity (i.e., community). More precisely, I suggest that community is constructed through deployment of particular types of knowledge which are rooted in personal experience with HIV/AIDS. In particular, I argue that knowledge is deployed strategically in an effort to gain access to, or to exercise power as exemplified by the fluidity in community identity expressed by participants in the community planning initiative.
There is a rich body of anthropological research on HIV/AIDS which has enhanced our understanding of the specific practices which contribute to disease transmission, the social construction of risk, and the social and structural factors which influence the epidemic. The research on which this dissertation is based represents a departure from previous anthropological research in that it is concerned explicitly with policy as the field of analysis. In adopting a critical perspective, I illustrate that anthropological research should play an essential role in documenting how policy is interpreted. In doing so, ethnography can make transparent the social, political and economic premises underlying policy and can, simultaneously, reveal the effects of policy, whether or not intentional.
0339: Forensic anthropology