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O'Sullivan, Sarah Marie

Grant Type
Dissertation Fieldwork Grant
Insitutional Affiliation
Toronto, U. of
Status
Completed Grant
Approve Date
Project Title
O'Sullivan, Sarah M., U. of Toronto, Toronto, Canada - To aid research on 'Stigma Transformed? The Politics of Everday Life and ARV Adherence in Post-conflict Northern Uganda,' supervised by Dr. Bianca Dahl

SARAH M. O'SULLIVAN, then a graduate student at University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada, received a grant in April 2017 to aid research on 'Stigma Transformed? The Politics of Everday Life and ARV Adherence in Post-conflict Northern Uganda,' supervised by Dr. Bianca Dahl. The goal of this project was to challenge narratives in anthropology and global health circles that suggest HIV-related stigma is primarily incited through the disease's corporeal visibility rather than how everyday actions are evaluated and made knowable through local moralities. To understand stigma as such is to ignore the dovetailing of historical, political-economic, and social particularities across space and place that form the basis of contemporary moralities. This project, based in post-conflict Acholiland in northern Uganda, was an ethnographic exploration of 'the moral life of stigma' shown through how openly HIV-positive members of Village Saving and Loan Associations (VSLAs) navigate and perform 'ethical' living. In the wake of a two-decades-long civil war, VSLAs became popular opportunities for Acholi to gain access to resources and appear as hard working citizens contributing towards Acholiland's (re)development. HIV-positive VSLA members become liminal subjects between worlds where they must be 'vulnerable' (to elicit aid from NGOs), yet 'productive' (to garner respect from surrounding communities). Failure to navigate this liminality risks HIV-positive people falling into stereotypes of lazy and aid-dependent. Interactions between VSLA members become a form of moral politics where collective participation in the potentiality of shared 'developed' futures is what policies appropriate actions for HIV-positive Acholi.