The Challenge of HIV for Feminist Theory

Rosengarten, Marsha. 2004. The Challenge of HIV for Feminist Theory. Feminist Theory, 5(2), pp. 205-222. ISSN 14647001 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

In this article I consider the field of HIV treatment and
prevention in light of poststructural feminist critiques of the
self-evidence of matter. Both HIV and poststructural feminist theory are
viewed in relation to the current state of HIV scientific research of
which it has been said: ‘much remains left to the imagination’ (McCune,
2001, emphasis added). Importantly, it is in the absence of ‘real’
knowledge of bodily matter and virus, that imagination is presumed by
science as a fall back. Paradoxically, recent debate within feminist
theory provides an almost perverse counter to this way of characterizing
the struggle against HIV. Rather than considering imagination as
something outside or external to the ‘real’, there is now substantial
argument suggesting that imagination is always already present and
inherent to the ‘real’. In the course of this paper, these differing
positions of science and feminist theory are used to challenge and
extend each other. The empirical matter of HIV medical science is
shown as evidence of matter beyond the normative insistence of
(human) language. On this basis, a theory of performativity – devised by
Judith Butler and extended by Karen Barad – is argued as grounds for a
methodologically expanded science.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


feminist theory, HIV AIDS, HIV anti-retroviral therapy

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Sociology > Centre for Study of Invention and Social Process (CSISP) [2003-2015]


1 August 2004Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

12 Mar 2009 15:42

Last Modified:

07 Jul 2017 12:26

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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