Africa Distinguished Lecture 2009
Tue, September 29, 2009 • 7:00 PM • WEL 1.308
"Miss HIV and Us: Beauty Queens and the Global Pandemic"
Just as we have Miss World, we also have "Miss HIV." Professor Neville Hoad, associate professor of English and Women's and Gender Studies at The University of Texas at Austin, will present a lecture about who the "Miss HIV" is, and her preoccupations.
A controversial and paradoxical figure, Miss HIV tells us many new things about gender and sexuality. What work does Miss HIV do in the imagining of a human face for the pandemic and for whom? The first appearance of a Miss HIV is in Canadian film-maker John Greyson's extraordinary AIDS musical Zero Patience (1993).
The second case-study is an actual pageant called Miss HIV Sigma Free, first held in Botswana in 2003, and the third incarnation under discussion here will be the film documentary, somewhat disingenuously titled Miss HIV (2008), in which the Botswana pageant serves as a foil for the promotion and/or resurrection of the Ugandan Abstain, Be Faithful, Use a Condom HIV prevention campaign of the 1990s, commonly known as the ABC strategy.
Flirting with "the romance of the incommensurate," the lecture will argue that the figure of a Miss HIV beauty/drag queen does very different kinds of representational work in these respective contexts while suggesting that the incarnations of this figure share an investment in making the pandemic intelligible for their imagined audiences in ways that engage and contest a range of epidemiological and policy arguments in their respective places and times. These incarnations of Miss HIV are irreducibly local and simultaneously important in the creation of expanded global awareness about the pandemic.
Hoad is a member of the steering committee of the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice at U.T.'s School of Law. He is the author of African Intimacies: Race, Homosexuality and Globalization (Minnesota, 2007), and co-editor of Sex and Politics in South Africa (with Karen Martin and Graeme Reid). He is currently working on a book on the literary and cultural representations of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa.