Allyson Day, "The Political Economy of Stigma: HIV, Memoir, Medicine, and Crip Positionalities" (Ohio State UP, 2021)

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In The Political Economy of Stigma: HIV, Memoir, Medicine, and Crip Positionalities (Ohio State UP, 2021), Ally Day offers a compelling critique of neoliberal medical practices in the US by coupling an analysis of HIV memoir with a critical examination of narrative medicine practice. Using insights from feminist disability studies and crip theory, Day argues that stories of illness and disability—such as HIV memoirs—operate within a political economy of stigma, which she defines as the formal and informal circulation of personal illness and disability narratives that benefits some while hindering others. On the one hand, this system decreases access to appropriate medical care for those with chronic conditions by producing narratives of personal illness that frame one’s relationship to structural inequality as a result of personal failure. On the other hand, the political economy of stigma rewards those who procure such narratives and circulate them for public consumption.

The political economy of stigma is theorized from three primary research sites: a reading group with women living with HIV, a reading group with AIDS service workers, and participant observation research and critical close reading of practices in narrative medicine. Ultimately, it is the women living with HIV who provide an alternative way to understand disability and illness narratives, a practice of differential reading that can challenge stigmatizing tropes and reconceptualize the creation, reception, and circulation of patient memoir.

Dr. Ally Day is Associate Professor in Disability Studies at the University of Toledo.

Sohini Chatterjee is a PhD Student in Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies at Western University, Canada. Her work has recently appeared in South Asian Popular Culture and Fat Studies.

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