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Islands of SovereigntyHaitian Migration and the Borders of Empire$
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Jeffrey S. Kahn

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226587387

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226587554.001.0001

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Contagion and the Sovereign Body

Contagion and the Sovereign Body

(p.99) Chapter 3 Contagion and the Sovereign Body
Islands of Sovereignty

Jeffrey S. Kahn

University of Chicago Press

This chapter traces the history of American ideas of Haitian social and biological pathology from the time of the US occupation of Haiti (and its reliance on 19th century tropes of Haitian contagion) through the medicalized stigmatization of Haitians during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. This equation of Haitians with disease culminated in their association with HIV/AIDS and the eventual creation of a US-run HIV quarantine camp for several hundred Haitians at Guantanamo in 1992. The chapter draws on archival materials from the occupation, litigation files, interviews, and legislative/administrative materials to show how the long-entrenched racialized pathologization of Haitians became the focal point for US anxieties over undocumented migration and the porosity of sovereign borders in the late twentieth century. The chapter situates the Haitian story within a more extensive historical account of medicalized borders in US immigration law and its exclusions (including the now-repealed HIV exclusion). It also theorizes the intersection of ideas of time and space, on the one hand, and ideas of race and disease, on the other, as it relates to the production of culturally meaningful and practically consequential geographies of securitization and containment.

Keywords:   race, HIV/AIDS, quarantine, contagion, sovereign borders, US occupation of Haiti, immigration, exclusion, Guantanamo

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