Corralling the virus: migratory sexualities and the spread of AIDS in the US media


In this paper I examine the emergence of a popular geography of AIDS in the US mass media in the 1980s, exploring the role of global mobility in the construction of AIDS as a national threat. Efforts to map the geography of the epidemic served to reinforce the illusion that the borders of the nation might effectively be defended against the incursions of HIV via the bodies of those marked as outside the proper citizenry. The representation of Africa as the 'cradle of AIDS', the images of crack houses in narratives about urban AIDS in the United States, and stories of White gay men 'going home to die' in the 'heartland' constructed a geography of danger linking race, sexuality, and 'home' that promised security for those within particular borders. Emphasizing the power of racialized maternal compassion as a model for the national response to AIDS, these stories described normative heterosexual domesticity as a means of fixing sexuality in place. This geography proposed that individual family units might reinforce national borders which seemed increasingly fluid in the context of global flows of populations, a construction that illustrates the intersection of space and sexuality in the representation of an emerging global health crisis and produces spatializations of danger that continue to shape the construction of 'global AIDS'.


Pion Ltd.

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Environment And Planning D: Society & Space


Comparative American Studies

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