HIV/AIDS and Global Health at Duke University

January 4, 2017
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Art, AIDS Activism, and Archives: From the Global History of HIV/AIDS in the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to the Lived Experience of HIV/AIDS in North Carolina Today.

This event featured lectures by medical anthropologist Maria de Bruyn, poet and artist-in-residence Kelley Swain, and NC AIDS Action Network activist Alicia Diggs, followed by presentations by Duke students in Prof. Kearsley (Karrie) Stewart’s "Global Narratives of HIV/AIDS" course– who have been exploring different ways of artistically reinterpreting de Bruyn’s portfolio of AIDS-related literature.

These students have created art with duplicated pages from de Bruyn’s collection, now a part of the Rubenstein Library History of Medicine archives, leaving only selected words visible to reveal unexpected themes and ideas hidden within the original texts — a method inspired by Thomas Phillips’ book, “A Humument.”

“The Humument project allowed us to engage with archived materials in a different way than usual and expanded my view of what can be learned from illness narratives. The process of extracting different strands of meaning out of the texts was valuable, as I learned to challenge my initial assumptions of a text to see beyond into the hidden meaning.”
Sarah Rapaport, junior neuroscience major/global health minor, Duke University

Their works will be exhibited on the Student Wall in Perkins Library from November 28 to February 1. On November 30, from 3-6pm at the Rubinstein Library Room 153, there will be a series of keynote speakers featuring: Maria de Bruyn herself; Kelley Swain, a Health Humanities Lab artist-in-residence; Alicia Diggs, spokesperson for the North Carolina AIDS Action Network; and presentations from Duke students.

More News: Professor Kearsley Stewart and Artist-in-Residence Kelley Swain work to define the field of Global Health Humanities at Duke University and beyond in their recent Lancet publication. “Medical humanities, an interdisciplinary field rooted in literature, philosophy, ethics, history, religion, and the visual and performing arts, is now an important part of training many US medical students.” The Duke Global Health Institute and the Health Humanities Lab are showcasing the importance of the arts and humanities in sharing the stories of HIV/AIDS.