Coffee Hour: States of Disease-Brian King

Friday, March 30, 2012 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm
Refreshments in 319 Walker Building at 3:30 p.m. Lecture in 112 Walker Building at 4:00 p.m.


States of Disease: HIV/AIDS and Political Ecologies of Health

The spread and varied impacts of HIV/AIDS tragically demonstrate the complex and reciprocal relationships between the biophysical and socio-political dimensions of human health.  Unlike other shocks or crises, the effects of HIV/AIDS have been shown to occur over a longer time period, are gradual and incremental, and are generally uneven within communities and regions.  Drawing upon the subfield of political ecology, this work seeks to address some of the methodological constraints of previous research by attending to the local and contextually specific dimensions of HIV/AIDS, its intra-household and familial features, and the effects following HIV transmission.  I argue that the dominant theoretical, scholarly and political framings of HIV/AIDS have material impacts for both social and ecological systems being reshaped by the disease.  Additionally, these framings are powerful in shaping the policy interventions that arise in response to the epidemic in South Africa and elsewhere.  See related article attached below.


HIV/AIDS march photo

Brian King is an assistant professor in the Department of Geography at Penn State University.

He received his MA and PhD in Geography from the University of Colorado, with a concentration upon development studies. The majority of his research has been completed in South Africa, with particular attention to understanding how the democratic transition is reshaping demographic patterns, livelihood decision-making, and the institutions of environmental governance. This work has been published in various journals, including Geoforum, Environment and Planning A, Progress in Human Geography, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, The Geographical Journal, and Area. More recently, his research has been extended into other thematic and geographic areas with two separate projects examining how environ mental variabilities shape livelihood responses in the Okavango Delta of Botswana, and how livelihood systems in South Africa are being transformed by HIV/AIDS. These research projects are externally funded, including support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Geography and Spatial Sciences (GSS) Program. Brian is one of two editors on the forthcoming book Ecologies and Politics of Health from Routledge Press, and is writing States of Disease: Political Ecologies of Health for the University of California Press.