Mapping HIV Prevention in Poland

  • Rivkin-Fish, Michele (PI)

Grants and Contracts Details


This ethnographic dissertation research project examines the HIV prevention programs of two politically active, rights-based organizations in Warsaw, Poland to explore the concurrent processes of democratization and privatization as Poland begins European Union accession. As inherently political public health interventions, HIV prevention programs provoke discussions of risk and responsibility, and visions of the moral social order; therefore, they can be used to understand the ways in which politically and socially marginalized populations invoke claims to citizenship status through attention to health issues. This research inquires how claims of vulnerability to HIV infection by women and sexual minorities advance or hinder their political agendas, and how these claims articulate with changing governmental policies towards health. This research is theoretically informed by the anthropology of citizenship and the state, with an emphasis on the ways in which regulation of the physical body is used to make arguments for inclusion in, exclusion from, or reformation of the body politic. The ethnography of postsocialism, which emphasizes the varying strategies people employ to engage the processes of transition, permits a discussion of contestations over citizenship and state-making through HIV prevention programs. Using qualitative methods, including participant observation, semi-structured and key informant interviews, and institutional histories, this research will create an institutional and discursive map ofHIV prevention in Poland, and examine the relationship between: (I) Activism for women's and sexual minorities' rights; (2) HIV vulnerability and prevention; and (3) Health care privatization and continuing economic reforms. The intellectual merit of this dissertation research stems trom the prospects of better understanding the relationship between democratic changes, the public, and health in postsocialist anthropology. It also introduces the additional dimension of sexuality to the anthropology of Eastern Europe that argues the processes of transition are inherently gendered. Additionally, this research speaks to critiques within lesbian/gay studies in anthropology that suggest gender and sexuality need to be understood as historically and socially specific. This study also has broader impacts and applied benefits beyond anthropology. By examining HIV prevention models in Poland, the data trom this project can be used to improve existing programs and develop new ones that better serve those vulnerable to HIV. The production of an institutional and cultural map ofHIV prevention work will outline the constraints and possibilities that non-governmental organizations face when negotiating with public policy and sentiment around issues important to HIV prevention, such as gender, sexuality, and rights.
Effective start/end date5/20/048/31/06


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