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The making of people living with HIV and AIDS: Identities, illness and social organisation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Do Valle, CGO; (2000) The making of people living with HIV and AIDS: Identities, illness and social organisation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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This dissertation examines specific issues surrounding the experience of living with HIV and AIDS in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It focuses on the process of identity formation in relation to local forms of social organization within the context of the AIDS epidemic since the mid-1980s. These processes are closely associated with factors, such as sexuality, gender and illness. Based on a historical and ethnographic perspective, fieldwork was mostly carried out in the metropolitan area of Rio de Janeiro. To investigate the social world of AIDS, I visited AIDS non-governmental organizations (NGOs), gay activist groups, and clinical settings involved with AIDS treatments and care. As a case-study, I conducted ethnographic research in the Grupo Pela Vidda-Rio, the leading AIDS NGO in the State of Rio de Janeiro. The thesis is composed of nine chapters. The first and second chapters give an introduction to the main research topics, aims, fieldwork, selected methodologies and a critical overview of the studies on sexuality, identity and AIDS in Brazil. Chapter three discusses the discursive practices and the cultural representations produced by the Brazilian news media, which contributed to popularize dominant cultural conceptions of the epidemic, particularly a stigmatizing identity: the "aidetico". Chapter four articulates the idea of the AIDS epidemic as a health crisis, which emerged alongside other moral and social problems. I focus on the role of Brazilian AIDS public policy and health structures in the social reproduction and incorporation of sexual and clinical identities, namely, "seropositive" and "seronegative" identities. Chapter five deals with the different forms of civil mobilization and social organization that constitute the social world of AIDS in Rio de Janeiro in relation to national and global levels. The local influence of global discourses on "solidarity" is analysed in its links to particular models of identity construction, especially discourses on the cultural meanings of "people living with HIV and AIDS". Chapter six is an ethnographic case-study of the Grupo Pela Vidda-Rio, its activities, composition, ideological aims and historical changes. As a final step to understand the broad determinacy of processes of identity formation, chapters seven and eight give an ethnographic analysis of how a range of identities (gender, sexual, and clinical ones) can be socially and culturally performed in the specific social setting of Grupo Pela Vidda. The complex logic of sociability and the power of social hierarchies in the definition and incorporation of identities are largely discussed in these two chapters. My main contribution, therefore, is to give a better understanding of the constitutive tension between broad processes and specific contexts of identity formation. This tension is fueled by different organizational and ideological models at work within the particular social world of AIDS in Rio de Janeiro.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The making of people living with HIV and AIDS: Identities, illness and social organisation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10136542
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