Technologies of the HIV/AIDS Corpse

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2 Citations (SciVal)


In the early 1980s, unprecedented numbers of gay men and intravenous drug users began dying of what would later become known as HIV/AIDS. What the HIV/AIDS corpse posed was a direct challenge to the institutional controls developed by funeral directors to normalize and transform the dead body. How the funeral service industry reacted and changed in response to the emergence of the HIV/AIDS corpse offers an opportunity to re-examine the productive potential of the dead human body. My article examines the epidemic's production of what I call the HIV/AIDS corpse, and the institutional affects those corpses had on the US funeral service industry. The theoretical concept I use to analyze the productive qualities of the HIV/AIDS corpse is the technologies of the corpse. These technologies are the machines, laws, and institutions that control the corpse by classifying, organizing, and physically transforming it. What emerges from the institutional challenges posed by the HIV/AIDS corpse is a specific kind of dead body that offers political possibilities for both the concept of a queer body and the broader subject of human death.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-149
Number of pages21
JournalMedical Anthropology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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