Feminist Approaches to Epidemiological Research and Interventions: Addressing the HIV/AIDS Epidemic among African American Women Open Access

Seitz, Scot Raymond (2009)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/qf85nb349?locale=en
Published

Abstract

There is an increasingly urgent need to develop effective and sustainable
interventions that can curb the HIV/AIDS epidemic among African American women in
the US. In this project I analyze the underlying conceptions of identity and social
structure that many public health researchers draw on when theorizing about the causes
of and interventions for African American women's high HIV transmission rate. Utilizing
Chandra Talpade Mohanty's theory of identity production through local power systems, I
suggest that monolithic understandings of African American women's identity limit
epidemiological research by obscuring how particular African American women's
identities are constructed through social forces and how this identity development
contributes to HIV transmission. Furthermore, drawing on Michel Foucault's formulation
of power, I argue that thinking about contextual forces (e.g., social structure and culture)
as all-powerful arrangements limits public health interventions to two general
approaches: 1) abstract social change or 2) limited, individualized behavior modification.
I propose that Mohanty and Foucault's theories offer a useful conceptual framework for
envisioning how tangible structural interventions can generate lasting health benefits.
Moreover, I suggest that Foucault's conception of power offers a model for designing
structural interventions based on an understanding of positive deviance (PD). This theory
states that within any community plagued by a particular disease there is always a subset
of at-risk individuals who remain healthy by engaging in particular kinds of behaviors. I
conclude by exploring how a systems approach to PD research can unearth effective
strategies for reducing the disparate rate of HIV infection among African American
women.

Table of Contents


Table of Contents

Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1
Chapter 1: Theories of Identity and Contextual Forces in Epidemiological Research . . .13
Chapter 2: Conceptual Frameworks for Structural Interventions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
Chapter 3: A Systems Approach to Positive Deviance Research and Interventions . . . 62
Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84
Works Cited . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87
Primary Sources (Chapter 1) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99
Primary Sources (Chapter 2) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .105

About this Honors Thesis

Rights statement
  • Permission granted by the author to include this thesis or dissertation in this repository. All rights reserved by the author. Please contact the author for information regarding the reproduction and use of this thesis or dissertation.
School
Department
Degree
Submission
Language
  • English
Research field
Keyword
Committee Chair / Thesis Advisor
Committee Members
Last modified

Primary PDF

Supplemental Files