Ethno-specific safe houses in the liberal contact zone: Race politics, place-making and the genealogies of the AIDS sector in globalmulticultural Toronto
Keywords:racialization, AIDS sector, 1980, 1990, colour-blind approaches, AIDS movement, white gay men, people of colour, e-ASO spaces, racialised population, health services, decision-making
AbstractIn this paper, I trace the genealogies of racialisation in Toronto’s AIDS sector since its emergence and evolution in the 1980s and 1990s. I pay particular attention to the ways that colour-blind approaches to AIDS in the early AIDS sector served to privilege white gay men not only in the realm of social and health service provision, but also in terms of political decision-making and priority-setting in the local AIDS movement. Drawing and building on Mary Louise Pratt’s notions of the ‘contact zone’, I highlight the exclusionary and sometimes deathly (if unintended) effects of liberal colour-blindness in the AIDS sector. In response to these exclusions, ethno-specific AIDS service organizations (e-ASOs) emerged to provide spaces for people of colour, by people of colour. I argue, drawing once again on Mary Louise Pratt, that the place-making practices of e-ASOs not only serve to differentiate e-ASOs from the mainstream, but also produce alternative ethno-specific discourses and approaches that make e-ASO spaces into ‘safe houses’ within which racialised population can find mutual support and culturally specific sexual health services.
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