In this article I analyze the gender, racial, sexual, and national ideologies at play in the incarceration and forced sterilization of HIV-positive Haitian refugees at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base in the 1990s. Focusing on legal and medical technologies—specifically asylum law and blood medicine—as sites of biopolitical contestation, I examine the process by which these Haitian refugees' blood became the site of international anxieties over legal sovereignty, biopolitics, citizenship, and reproductive rights. This article places the asylum process and the HIV antibody blood test alongside each other as intertwined technologies of confession that seek to parse “good, truthful” desirable bodies from “bad, deceptive” bodies threatening to contaminate the body politic. I argue that penal institutions, military practices, legal frameworks, and medical testing braid together through blood to construct the US nation-state in a transnational frame and in deeply gendered, sexualized, and racialized ways.
Technologies of Blood: Asylum, Medicine, and Biopolitics
Cathy Hannabach is an adjunct assistant professor in women's studies and American studies at Temple University, working in queer and feminist theory, film studies, and cultural studies. She is completing a book titled “Blood Cultures: Medicine, Media, and Militarisms” that examines the politics of blood in twentieth-century US medical, military, and popular visual culture.
Cathy Hannabach; Technologies of Blood: Asylum, Medicine, and Biopolitics. Cultural Politics 1 March 2013; 9 (1): 22–41. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/17432197-1907154
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