Use as Directed (By the Global Aids Metropole): The "Prostitute" and "Sex Worker" Identities in Antananarivo, Madagascar

Borrowing the notion of "metropole" and applying it to global HIV/AIDS policy, I describe how a global AIDS metropole generates, maintains, and diffuses specific identities related to the HIV pandemic throughout the world, concentrating on the prostitute and sex worker identities. I first describe the dominant, and increasingly polarized, Western discourses that have shaped these identities over time. I then specifically address the inappropriate application of the sex worker and prostitute identities to women who practice three different forms of sexual exchange in Antananarivo, Madagascar. Through an ethnography of women engaged in the sexual economy, I explore the disconnect between the discourse and assumptions underlying policies issuing from the global AIDS metropole, as compared to the realities of women's lives. I discuss potential negative health consequences of the inappropriate application of these labels, both for women participating in the sexual economy and for the population in Antananarivo at large. Finally, I consider the role that relational feminist theory could play in contributing toward a paradigmatic shift in how the global AIDS metropole approaches core-groups such as sex workers or prostitutes.
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