Reclaiming HIV/AIDS in digital media studies
This article puts forward an argument for the importance of HIV/AIDS to digital studies, focusing, focusing on the North American context. Tracing conjoined histories and presents makes clear that an HIV-informed approach to digital media studies offers methods for attuning to marginalized media practices that should be central to interrogating the politics, relations, and aesthetics of digital media. Artist Kia LaBeija’s #Undetectable (2016) is closely analyzed in order to explicate some of HIV’s potential resonances for digital studies, including viral media and justice-based responses to surveillance. We then propose a methodological framework for centering HIV in understandings of three key concepts for the field: (1) networks; (2) social media and platforms; and, (3) digital history. We argue that HIV-positive users bring expertise to navigating digital infrastructures that can surveil and harm while also facilitating pleasure and connection. Such tension provides models of response that publics need to insist upon more just digital tools and structures for our unfolding present.
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