Technologies of Blood: Asylum, Medicine, and Biopolitics

Technologies of Blood: Asylum, Medicine, & Biopolitics

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ABSTRACT: This article analyzes 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 one another 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 U.S. nation-state in a transnational frame and in deeply gendered, sexualized, and racialized ways.

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  • Published:
    Cultural Politics 9.1 (2013): 22-41