The Borders of AIDS
Race, Quarantine, and Resistance
- PUBLISHED: June 2021
- SUBJECT LISTING: Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Film and Media Studies, Politics
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 264 Pages, 6 x 9 in
- SERIES: Decolonizing Feminisms
- ISBN: 9780295748962
- Publisher: University of Washington Press
As soon as US media and politicians became aware of AIDS in the early 1980s, fingers were pointed not only at the gay community but also at other countries and migrant communities, particularly Haitians, as responsible for spreading the virus. Evangelical leaders, public health officials, and the Reagan administration quickly capitalized on widespread fear of the new disease to call for quarantines, immigration bans, and deportations, scapegoating and blaming HIV-positive migrants—even as the rest of the world regarded the US as the primary exporter of the virus.
In The Borders of AIDS, Karma Chávez demonstrates how such calls proliferated and how failure to impose a quarantine for HIV-positive citizens morphed into the successful enactment of a complete ban on the regularization of HIV-positive migrants—which lasted more than twenty years. News reports, congressional records, and AIDS activist archives reveal how queer groups and migrant communities built fragile coalitions to fight against the alienation of themselves and others, asserting their capacity for resistance and resiliency. Building on existing histories of HIV/AIDS, public health, citizenship, and immigration, Chávez establishes how politicians and public health officials treated different communities with HIV/AIDS and highlights the work these communities did to resist alienation.
Authors & Contributors
Karma R. Chávez is associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin and author of Queer Migration Politics: Activist Rhetoric and Coalitional Possibilities.
[I]mmediately urgent and immensely creative monograph.- Peitho Journal
In this important monograph, Chávez eloquently interrogates the concept of national belonging as it relates to race, disease, power, and morality in the US. She clearly and articulately expresses her core thesis of the alienizing logic of exclusion and offers a fresh and insightful contribution to existing histories of the early years of the ongoing AIDS crisis by repositioning themes of race and immigration into the central frame of this narrative.- Connections
[P]rovides a multifaceted narrative analysis of the dual policy frameworks of quarantine and immigration-related bans and detention as the United States coped with the rise of HIV/AIDS in the last quarter of the twentieth century. [Chávez’s]work represents an admirable effort to integrate relevant voices from a variety of strata. Naturally, all historical work in the contemporary era should endeavor to do the same, but the tapestry Chávez weaves through her diverse employment of sources proffers truly unique perspectives in her field.- H-Net Reviews
This book made me hopeful about what scholarship can be and do. Chávez plays with time, drawing connections between the Reconstruction era, the AIDS epidemic, the COVID-19 pandemic, but always carefully. Chávez is confident about her political commitments, while not afraid to admit what she and we do not yet know. And perhaps most importantly, she allows oppressed people's freedom dreams to live on.- Andrea Bolivar, American Ethnologist
A prescient book that matters deeply for our current pandemic time.- Jennifer Brier, University of Illinois, Chicago
An important contribution to critical migration studies, race and ethnic studies, and the social history of public health. By centering how black and brown groups were affected by the AIDS crisis, The Borders of AIDS advances understanding of how race, state power, and disease intertwine in reproducing the citizen/alien divide.- Neel Ahuja, University of California, Santa Cruz