Indigenous AIDS Organizing and the Anthropology of Activist Knowledge


  • Scott L. Morgensen Macalester College


AIDS, Indigenous, anti-colonialism, transnational activism, critique of anthropology


Indigenous AIDS activists join AIDS activists worldwide today in theorizing the AIDS pandemic as a construct of social relations of power. Their anti-colonial and transnational activism holds scholars accountable to studying how power structures the production of knowledge about AIDS. This essay first examines how Indigenous AIDS activists theorize the colonial and transnational conditions of AIDS, and challenge states and international agencies to respect the sovereignty of Indigenous communities and knowledges. The essay then cites Indigenous activist knowledge as inspiration for revisiting critiques of coloniality in anthropology, and their implications for the anthropology of AIDS. Anthropologists studying AIDS can respond to AIDS activists by addressing how colonial legacies shape the processes and products of research and writing. By working within intersubjective and reflexive relationships with people and communities affected by AIDS, anthropologists can enter accountable dialogue with AIDS activists and on that basis produce anti-colonial and transnational knowledge about AIDS.

Author Biography

Scott L. Morgensen, Macalester College

Assistant Professor, Women's and Gender Studies Macalester College