Exploring the Relational Complexity of Serodiscordance: Negotiating Violence, Temporality and Diaspora

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In this chapter we set out a theoretical framework to consider the relational complexity of serodiscordance and to critique the biomedical deployment of serodiscordance and its socio-legal effects. Specifically, we draw on the relational approach to bodies, technology and place articulated in Karen Barad’s agential realism. This analysis will consider the practice and narratives of healthcare providers in a specialist clinic and the narratives of patients who were, or had been, in (assumed) serodiscordant relationships. The data this chapter is premised on were collected during a broader qualitative investigation of an HIV specialist antenatal clinic in London, which explored the multifarious requirements of the successful prevention of mother-to-child (vertical) transmission of HIV. We argue that contrary to its deployment within biomedicine, serodiscordance is an intricate entanglement of virus, body and power. We demonstrate that serodiscordance emerges in the clinic not only as a material-discursive phenomenon, but a phenomenon that is multiple. We explore three aspects of serodiscordance as a phenomenal multiplicity, which we have termed: violent, temporal and diasporic. In conclusion we consider how HIV as a multiplicity unsettles the biomedical notion of serodiscordance.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCross-Cultural Perspectives on Couples with Mixed HIV Status
Subtitle of host publicationBeyond Positive/Negative
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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