Preconference Title: Social Science and Social Justice: Global Health Research 40 Years since the Start of the HIV/AIDS Epidemic

Organizers: Sociologists’ AIDS Network and the Global Health and Development Interest Group

Where: New York City, NY

When: August 9, 2019 (one day before the ASA meetings)

Theme: The HIV/AIDS epidemic has yielded the largest global response to any illness in history and offers an important lens through which to examine a range of issues related to health inequity more broadly. Early in the HIV epidemic, activism both at home and abroad played a major role in drawing attention to the desperate need for government action, with important actions taking place in New York City. Battles regarding stigma and marginalization, access to expensive therapies, and community mobilizing for action played out in settings across the globe, even as dramatic changes to the global health landscape occurred. During this period, governmental, international and non-governmental organizations made substantial economic, political, and policy commitments to improving access to healthcare and medicine, with many of these new targets institutionalized in the Sustainable Development Goals. Although progress has been made on many fronts in both HIV and global health, old challenges remain and new ones loom on the horizon, like the rise of non-infectious diseases in the developing world and the population health impacts of climate change.

Both within the US and globally, enormous disparities exist with regard to access to health care, how programs and policies are implemented, and who lives and dies. These inequities, rooted in racism, sexism, homophobia, economic injustice, and global power structures, are inextricably linked to the social organization of societies, institutions, politics, and power. In lieu of this, and as some governments have started to back away from their promises and curtail health funding, these challenges require a response that is oriented towards social justice and informed by sociology.

This year’s Annual Meeting theme “Engaging Social Justice for a Better World” presents a critical opportunity to examine the contributions sociologists have made to research on HIV and the field of global health more broadly, as well as what contributions remain to be made. Further, it raises the question of how we can ensure that our research, programs, policies and medical advances support health equity, rather than contribute to increasing disparities, particularly during a time when both scientific evidence and government funding for research are under threat. To address these questions, this mini-conference will bring together scholars of HIV, global health and development to stimulate discussion around the role of social justice in health research and what makes sociologists uniquely positioned to tackle some of our greatest health challenges. In particular, it will provide an opportunity to think about how lessons learned from the HIV response can be adapted to other pressing health issues; how global health research in other areas might inform the changing HIV response; and more generally, how sociological insight constitutes a key tool in promoting the use of science in evidence-based health policy and practice.

Call for Submissions: Abstracts for papers should be linked to one of four key themes that panels will explore:

  • Politics, Power and Global Health: exploring the tensions between policies, organizations, institutions and the local realities of health or illness;
  • Health Inequities and the Consequences of Social Suffering: examining the lived experience of illness on individuals and communities;
  • Science, Technologies and Bodies of Global Health: exploring the role of STS in global health and the production of health knowledge in global spaces;
  • Health Activism and the Pursuit of Social Justice: engaging as scholar activists and understanding the intended and unintended consequences of social action.

Abstracts should contain the following information in the following form:

  • Title
  • Theme: (please select the theme above that most closely fits the paper or say ‘other’ if you can’t find a good fit)
  • Contact details: (author/s, affiliation, and e-mail address)
  • Abstract: (no more than 300 words)

All abstracts should be sent to: Brooke S. West at

The deadline for sending abstracts is Friday, December 14, 2018.

The preconference committee will inform successful applicants by Friday, December 21, 2018.

Note: The preconference proposal with all confirmed participants will be submitted for ASA Program Committee approval by January 9th(submission system closing date).

Pre-conference Organizing Committee:

Brooke West, Columbia University

Joseph Harris, Boston University

Nicole Angotti, American University

Sam Friedman, NDRI

Sanyu Mojola, Princeton University

Shiri Noy, Denison University

Tasleem Padamsee, Ohio State University

Rachel Sullivan Robinson, American University

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