We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Workable Sisterhood

The Political Journey of Stigmatized Women with HIV/AIDS

Michele Tracy Berger

Publication Year: 2010

Workable Sisterhood is an empirical look at sixteen HIV-positive women who have a history of drug use, conflict with the law, or a history of working in the sex trade. What makes their experience with the HIV/AIDS virus and their political participation different from their counterparts of people with HIV? Michele Tracy Berger argues that it is the influence of a phenomenon she labels "intersectional stigma," a complex process by which women of color, already experiencing race, class, and gender oppression, are also labeled, judged, and given inferior treatment because of their status as drug users, sex workers, and HIV-positive women.

The work explores the barriers of stigma in relation to political participation, and demonstrates how stigma can be effectively challenged and redirected.

The majority of the women in Berger's book are women of color, in particular African Americans and Latinas. The study elaborates the process by which these women have become conscious of their social position as HIV-positive and politically active as activists, advocates, or helpers. She builds a picture of community-based political participation that challenges popular, medical, and scholarly representations of "crack addicted prostitutes" and HIV-positive women as social problems or victims, rather than as agents of social change. Berger argues that the women's development of a political identity is directly related to a process called "life reconstruction." This process includes substance- abuse treatment, the recognition of gender as a salient factor in their lives, and the use of nontraditional political resources.

Published by: Princeton University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

pdf iconDownload PDF (65.7 KB)


pdf iconDownload PDF (39.0 KB)

read more

Chapter One: The Politics of Intersectional Stigma for Women with HIV/AIDS

pdf iconDownload PDF (137.2 KB)
pp. 1-36

I am sitting in a living room, in Detroit, full of decoratively placed plants. The colorful plants help to make the sparsely furnished room feel comfortable. My attention is drawn back to Nicole,1 a forty-two-year-old African American woman sitting in front of me on the couch. She is wearing an amber colored...

read more

Chapter Two: Women’s Narrative Bio-Sketches

pdf iconDownload PDF (121.2 KB)
pp. 37-67

This chapter serves to introduce the reader to the sixteen women’s lives whose political involvement and commitments constitute the core of the research, and provides a compressed narrative bio-sketch for each woman. The broad sociodemographic profile presented here portrays a group of...

read more

Chapter Three: Capturing the Research Journey/Listening to Women’s Lives

pdf iconDownload PDF (92.3 KB)
pp. 68-86

In this chapter I review the methodology that informed my approach to the writing of this book. I characterize throughout that the process of the women’s participation as a journey; so too was the research for me. I was involved as a witness, seeker, recorder, researcher, and narrator of their...

read more

Chapter Four: Narratives of Injustice: Discovery of the HIV/AIDS Virus

pdf iconDownload PDF (89.4 KB)
pp. 87-104

In chapter one, I have argued that the women’s experiences surrounding the context of discovery of the HIV/AIDS virus significantly influenced their future political activity. Their comprehension of those events was a precipitating catalyst to self-recovery, self-empowerment, and later political participation. Delineating their perception of the situation in which...

read more

Chapter Five: Life Reconstruction and the Development of Nontraditional Political Resources

pdf iconDownload PDF (79.8 KB)
pp. 105-118

In the literature on empowerment and women with HIV/AIDS, there has been little research that has sought to document the specific ways women empower themselves, or what types of special processes women with the HIV/AIDS virus might undergo along the way of becoming...

read more

Chapter Six: Life Reconstruction and Gender

pdf iconDownload PDF (103.3 KB)
pp. 119-142

Minnie Ransom, a fabled local African American healer known to help women in various states of need, is a prime character in The Salt Eaters, Toni Cade Bambara’s novel of redemption at both the community and individual levels. As I chart respondents’ journey in this chapter, I am reminded...

read more

Chapter Seven: Making Workable Sisterhood Possible: The Multiple Expressions of Political Participation

pdf iconDownload PDF (152.0 KB)
pp. 143-185

Thus far in the discussion, the ways women have used their intersectional experiences of HIV/AIDS to transform their personal lives has been central. This chapter centers on the political participation for respondents. The first section of this chapter delves into the range and meanings of the...

read more

Chapter Eight: Looking to the Future: Struggle and Commitment for Stigmatized Women with HIV/AIDS

pdf iconDownload PDF (63.1 KB)
pp. 186-192

The women whose stories are told in this book—HIV-positive women from stigmatized pasts who became politically active—represent a new thread of participation in contemporary political life. Individually, their early histories were daunting. Additionally, the hegemonic influences of...


pdf iconDownload PDF (29.9 KB)
pp. 193-194


pdf iconDownload PDF (92.0 KB)
pp. 195-208


pdf iconDownload PDF (74.5 KB)
pp. 209-224


pdf iconDownload PDF (604.1 KB)
pp. 225-234

E-ISBN-13: 9781400826384
E-ISBN-10: 1400826381
Print-ISBN-13: 9780691127705
Print-ISBN-10: 0691127700

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2010

Edition: Course Book