Russian Body Politics: A Biopolitical Investigation of the HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Russia Open Access

de Guzman, Kim (Spring 2018)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/8s45q8805?locale=en
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Abstract

The purpose of this work is to analyze the HIV/AIDS epidemic from a biopolitical stance with a focus on body politics. Biopolitics is a term coined by Michel Foucault that refers to the "techniques for achieving the subjugations of bodies and control of populations as well as the set of mechanisms wherein the basic biological features of the human species become the object of a political strategy” (Stapleton and Byers, 1). In other words, bodies become the arena in which the government can exert social control. Body politics in this work refers to the interactions between the political, cultural, and social bodies and those those interactions affect the experiences of the somatic body. Bodies that deviate from the national standards are deemed "abnormal" and are subsequently subject to stigmatization against a value system purported by the government. This work deals with how the state strives to create ideal bodies alongside the creation of abnormal bodies, bodies possessing qualities or demonstrating behaviors aberrant to the state's desired vision of itself. This work positions its analyses on three abnormal groups - female prostitutes, homosexuals, and intravenous drug users - and analyzes their creation by an examination of the culture and laws that govern these bodies throughout the Imperial, Soviet, and Post-Soviet eras. The similarities in experiences suggest that the creation of abnormal bodies is a methodological one. This work proposes that HIV+ individuals is the state's most recent construct of abnormal. This investigation proposes a theoretical framework it dubs "the surgical approach" to better understand how the state deals with abnormal bodies. What emerges is this notion that the extensive censorship of abnormal bodies makes these groups largely invisible from the public view, suggesting a "social eugenics" project orchestrated by the state that is not implausible given Russia's history of erasure of people, as seen during Stalin's term. Analyses of the conditions that made our abnormal groups most vulnerable to HIV/AIDS is imperative because research demonstrates that associated stigmatization has direct adverse health effects. An investigation like present study that recognizes the effect culture plays is necessary to fully comprehend the epidemic.

Table of Contents

Introduction……………………………………………………………………………………………….………………………8

Chapter 1: Envisioning the Body in Imperial Russia …………………………………………………………………18

Chapter 2: Recreating the Body in Soviet Russia ……………………………………………….………………,……45

Chapter 3: Bridging the Soviet Body and the Perfecting the Body in Post-Soviet Russia……….…70

Conclusion……………..……………..……………..……………..……………..……………..……………..…………………..105

Appendix……….……………..……………..……………..……………..……………..……………..…………………..........108

Works Cited……… ……………..……………..……………..……………..……………..……………..……………...........127

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