Agora Speaker Series: “‘HIV is the New Diabetes’: Paranoia, Precarity, and the Politics of Sedentary Analogies”

March 23, 2018 - 3:00pm to 5:00pm

The language of diabetes management takes many forms.  Sometimes the condition is situated as easily controlled with the swallowing of a pill or the programming of a pump.  At other times, it is positioned as a dire state of being that is inherently fatal.  In some settings, the disease is imagined as managed solely through individual fortitude.  In still other contexts it requires institutional redress.  This talk engages one instance of how diabetes is made intelligible by engaging the controversial analogy “HIV is the new diabetes.”  Medical practitioners who view HIV as a chronic condition have embraced the comparison to diabetes, while those who cling to the notion that HIV is vivacious and uncontrollable resist the association.  Factions that decry the analogy tend to mischaracterize both diseases by ignoring the commonalities among the conditions and also down playing the life-changing consequences of diabetes.  HIV is consistently marked as erratic and onerous while diabetes is situated as a disease readily controlled by pharmaceuticals or personal restraint.  Not content with this conclusion, I then invert the pair to appraise how HIV might help to reconceptualize our thinking about diabetes management, particularly in regard to the notions of shame, self-governance, and race. 

Jeffrey Bennett, Department of Communication Studies, Vanderbilt University

Location and Address

105 David Lawrence Hall *Please note the room change

Directions and Parking Information

Garage and street parking available

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