• Apprehending Stigma: Towards a Reparative Trauma-informed Decolonial Reading of HIV-related Stigma

      Long, Carmen; Interdisciplinary Humanities Program
      Applying a decolonial trauma-informed framework that brings together different disciplinary systems, this project investigates responses to the stigma associated with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in the literary work of two Canadian and two South African writers. I approach the literary journalism of Stephanie Nolen and Jonny Steinberg and the novels of Tomson Highway and the late Phaswane Mpe as testimony in which Steinberg, Nolen and Mpe contest Western epistemologies and Highway foregrounds Indigenous knowledges. The four texts reframe stigma as operating within much larger systemic violences and operations of power than can be envisioned within a politics of recognition, indexed to the expository logic of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s paranoid position. Locating HIV-related stigma as emerging within the context of intergenerational collective trauma rooted in colonial violence makes possible the kind of reparative work that Sedgwick envisions, as well as an engagement with the infinite possibilities of encounter as an ethical response to this socially polarizing phenomenon that has proven so difficult to dislodge. Attentive to specific racialized and minoritized colonial histories, this project unravels the entanglement of events and conditions that coalesce around HIV in watershed moments when decolonial work collides with ongoing histories of colonial violence. Such a trauma-informed, decolonial lens offers a non-positivist framework to unsettle, potentially, the stasis of stigma reduction.