The Political Journey of Stigmatized Women with HIV/AIDS
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
Chapter One: The Politics of Intersectional Stigma for Women with HIV/AIDS
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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...
Chapter Two: Women’s Narrative Bio-Sketches
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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...
Chapter Three: Capturing the Research Journey/Listening to Women’s Lives
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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...
Chapter Four: Narratives of Injustice: Discovery of the HIV/AIDS Virus
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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...
Chapter Five: Life Reconstruction and the Development of Nontraditional Political Resources
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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...
Chapter Six: Life Reconstruction and Gender
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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...
Chapter Seven: Making Workable Sisterhood Possible: The Multiple Expressions of Political Participation
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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...
Chapter Eight: Looking to the Future: Struggle and Commitment for Stigmatized Women with HIV/AIDS
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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...
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Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2010
Edition: Course Book