Week Ten: Nilsson-Stutz & Troka

This week Liv Nilsson-Stutz talked about her anthropological research on death and dying while Donna Troka talked about how celebrity shapes and impacts HIV/AIDS discourse.

After giving a historical context of the study of death and dying, Nilsson-Stutz talked about a South African context where the “othering” of HIV+ people is less about sexuality and morality and more about how the disease is intimately connected to death. In this instance, HIV+ people are seen as living corpses who are dangerous because they are polluting. Furthermore, the terminally ill are seen as “noisy ancestors.”

Dr. Troka talked about how celebrities (musicians, movie stars, athletes) have impacted AIDS discourse in different ways over the last three decades. Looking at both HIV positive celebrities like Magic Johnson and (presumably) HIV negative celebrities like Bono, we discussed how they can impact social norms, health communication, and whether or not the folding in of consumerism (Bono’s “Project Red” or Kenneth Cole’s “We All Have AIDS”) makes a difference.


  • Kalichman, Seth C. “The Disclosure of Celebrity HIV Infection: Its Effects on Public Attitudes.” American Journal of Public Health. October 1992, Vol. 82, No. 10.
  • Niehaus, Isak. “Death Before Dying: Understanding AIDS Stigma in the South African Lowveld.” Journal of South African Studies, Volume 33, Number 4, December 2007. 845-860.
  • Noland, Carey M. “An Exploration of the Impact of Celebrity on the HIV/AIDS Pandemic.” Journal of Health and Mass Communication. Vol 1. Nos 3/4 (Summer/Fall 2009).



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