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Silence as Care? Gendered Violence, HIV, and the (Im)Possibilities of Speec...

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Research Lounge, North Wing, Arts West (Level 5) The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia

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Speaker: Dr Annemarie Samuels

When faced with violence and distress, people may care for themselves and others through silence rather than words (Das 2007; Han 2012; Jackson 2004). However, silences may also signal disregard, abandonment or oppression. Silence in response to gendered violence may cause additional suffering, and yet it may also be a deliberate or subconscious strategy to keep everyday life going (Gammeltoft 2016). Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork on HIV/AIDS in Aceh, this talk will explore such ambiguities of silence for people who experience the double burden of HIV and gendered violence. How, I ask, may silences simultaneously constitute forms of care and neglect? How do people who experience gendered violence navigate silence and speech in everyday life? Ultimately, how may attention to the unsaid, the unspeakable, and the invisible attune us to the intersections of systemic and intimate forms of gendered violence? In Aceh, silences about HIV and gendered violence persist not only through social stigmatization, but also in a public healthcare bureaucracy haunted by colonial structures of vision; a system that paradoxically at once demands people living with HIV to be visible and causes their (gendered) political invisibility. Within and beyond this system, embodied practices of silence complexly fold into my interlocutors’ subjectivities, not only through the social dangers of speaking out, but also as productive narrative strategies of ethical navigation. I suggest that analyzing gendered violence through the multiple, haunting as well as caring, shapes of silences, reveals the entanglement of intersubjective forms of violence with structures of socio-economic inequality.

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Research Lounge, North Wing, Arts West (Level 5) The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia

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