Sarah O’Sullivan

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Toronto, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9469

Approve Date

April 25, 2017

Project Title

O'Sullivan, Sarah M., U. of Toronto, Toronto, Canada - To aid research on 'Stigma Transformed? The Politics of Everday Life and ARV Adherence in Post-conflict Northern Uganda,' supervised by Dr. Bianca Dahl

Preliminary abstract: This project explores the particularities and social experiences of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in post-conflict northern Uganda in an era of accessible treatment and development aid. Medical anthropology and public health alike have been premised on the assumption that with increased access to antiretroviral medication (ARVs), people living with HIV/AIDS will live longer, healthier lives, and thereby stigma against them will drop. Yet, as this project demonstrates, HIV-positive Ugandans continue to face high rates stigma in a context of universal ARV access, although the forms stigma takes are changing. This project explores why this is happening and what the emergent forms of stigma now materializing can tell us about the newly unfolding relations between social precarity and HIV-positive status, as the epidemiological fight against the epidemic appears to be succeeding in Uganda. Once described as ‘walking corpses,’ HIV-positive people now adhering to ARVs can once again partake in social life in meaningful ways. Yet as this research aims to show, accompanying incredible corporeal transformations, new behavioural expectations emerge alongside the old, stigmatizing ARV users when such expectations are not met. HIV-positive northern Ugandans are expected to contribute productively to northern Uganda’s post-war development. Grounding inquiry in northern Uganda’s post-conflict context of uncertain social change and development aid, this project seeks to reconceptualize the concept of stigma and explore more systematically the multifaceted ways in which the social life of HIV and the social life of development aid interpenetrate in a context of free and available treatment.