The Proximate Truth: Reenactment in the Pandemic-Era HIV/AIDS Documentaries


This article assesses the conceptual and political significance of the Aids Jaago (2007) omnibus as prophylactic pandemic media. Critical reenactments of post-cocktail era HIV emergence, these docudramas address the epistemological problematic of the “pandemic vision” recalibrated by the singular cultural history of HIV/AIDS hysteria (1980–1995). What politics ensue from such reenactments? Hardly radical anti-statist or anti-corporate interventions, I argue these NGO-style documentaries index a domain of negotiated cultural strategies: they remain partly complicit with neoliberal individuation (the packaged care of the self) even as they stress the continuing necessity of social networks (family, friends, lovers, communities, and the state) to living with the virus. Thus these deliberative Bollywood-style efforts aim not only the comprehension (the perceptible, at the level of cognition) but also the apprehension (the sensible, inclusive of sensory, and affective levels) of HIV emergence as a biological and social event. The article elaborates their “politics of proximity” that attaches spectators to a social marked by loss, a living-in-common with both pathogens and the infected. Such affective translations of distance suffering challenges the willful collective blindness in which HIV/AIDS resides only in pathologized, isolated and quarantined, high-risk bodies.

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@inproceedings{Suttam2011ThePT, title={The Proximate Truth: Reenactment in the Pandemic-Era HIV/AIDS Documentaries}, author={Saman Suttam and Bishnupriya Ghosh}, year={2011} }