2022-06-20Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.1177/13675494211017911
HIV/AIDS and its monsters. Negotiating criminalisation along the monster–human continuum
We use the concept of the ‘monster’ in this article as an analytical tool to grasp a variety of persons who – understood to be criminals in their countries of residence, and living with or thought to be particularly vulnerable to HIV – are perceived as threats from across the European region. Building on the field of monster studies, we focus here on strategies undertaken to shift the ‘monstrous’ towards the ‘human’ along what we describe as monster–human continuums. Relying on ethnographic fieldwork from Germany, Poland and Greece, four case studies examine processes of (re-)humanisation in the fields of migration, prisons, drug use and sex work that emerge at the intersections of humanitarianism, public health, human rights and citizenship. In particular, we propose that these strategies can entail the production of dissimilar forms of political subjectivity, the redistribution of responsibility or vulnerability and a reshuffling of blame within the moral economy of innocence and guilt – strategies that produce particular norms and forms of the human. These strategies, moreover, involve the normalisation or suppression of ‘abnormal’, ‘irrational’ or ‘guilty’ dimensions of criminalised subjects, thereby taming their capacity to confuse or confront societies’ worldviews, and ultimately foreclosing the possibility to imagine a being-in-the-world otherwise. We thus conclude by asking how embracing the monstrous might facilitate the navigation of cultural, social and moral anxieties that leave room for complex and conflicting practices and subjectivities.
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