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Charis welcomes Dr. Alexandra Juhasz, and Theodore Kerr in conversation with Justin C. Smith for a discussion of We Are Having This Conversation Now: The Times of AIDS Cultural Production. We Are Having This Conversation Now offers a history, present, and future of AIDS through thirteen short conversations between Alexandra Juhasz and Theodore Kerr, scholars deeply embedded in HIV responses. This event is co-sponsored by Positive Impact Health Center. Positive Impact Health Center’s mission is to provide client-centered care for the HIV community to have a life worth loving.
They establish multiple timelines of the epidemic, offering six foundational periodizations of AIDS culture, tracing how attention to the crisis has waxed and waned from the 1980s to the present. They begin the book with a 1990 educational video produced by a Black health collective, using it to consider organizing intersectionally, theories of videotape, empowerment movements, and memorialization. This video is one of many powerful yet overlooked objects that the pair focus on through conversation to understand HIV across time. Along the way, they share their own artwork, activism, and stories of the epidemic. Their conversations illuminate the vital role personal experience, community, cultural production, and connection play in the creation of AIDS-related knowledge, archives, and social change. Throughout, Juhasz and Kerr invite readers to reflect and find ways to engage in their own AIDS-related culture and conversation.
Dr. Alexandra Juhasz (CUNY) has been making and thinking about AIDS activist video since the mid-80s. She is the author of AIDS TV: Identity, Community and Alternative Video (Duke, 1995), and a large number of AIDS educational videos including Living with AIDS: Women and AIDS (1987 with Jean Carlomusto), Safer and Sexier: A College Student's Guide to Safer Sex (1991), and Video Remains (2005). Most recently she’s been engaging in cross-generational dialogue with AIDS activists and scholars such as Jih-Fei Cheng and Nishant Shahani, AIDS and the Distribution of Crises (Duke 2020), the connections between HIV+COVID with the collaborative What Would an HIV Doula Do? and Long Covid with Pato Hebert.
Theodore (ted) Kerr is a writer and organizer whose work focuses primarily on HIV / AIDS. He curated the US’s National Libraries of Medicine exhibition AIDS, Poster, and Stories of Public Health: A People’s Pandemic. In 2020, Kerr worked with the New York City AIDS Memorial as a creative consultant on HEAR ME, an audio installation at the memorial, that also resulted in A Time To Listen, a multi-part online conversation series. In 2016 / 2017 Kerr performed 10 interviews for the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art's Visual Arts and the AIDS Epidemic: An Oral History Project. In 2019, Kerr was the editor of an issue of On Curating entitled, What You Don’t Know About AIDS Could Fill A Museum.
Justin C. Smith, MS, MPH is the Director of the Campaign to End AIDS at Positive Impact Health Centers in Atlanta, GA where he helped to develop and implement the Ending the HIV Epidemic strategy for Metro Atlanta. He currently serves as a member of the Atlanta Mayor’s LGBTQ Advisory board and is the Co-chair of the Stigma and Disparities subcommittee of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA). For the last 20 years, Justin has worked in a variety of capacities in LGBTQ health and HIV research, focusing primarily on improving our understanding of the social determinants of HIV among marginalized communities in the United States, particularly Black gay and bisexual men. Previously, he worked in the Division of HIV Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, and at the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD). Justin’s research has been published in some of the leading academic journals in public health, and he has presented frequently at professional conferences addressing HIV. His writings and commentary on issues at the intersections of public health, sexuality, and popular culture have appeared in media outlets including CNN, NPR, WIRED, The Daily Beast, Al-Jazeera, and CNP’s The Reckoning. Justin holds an MS in Behavioral, Social, and Health Education Sciences from Emory University, an MPH in Health Behavior from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and an AB in Sociology and Community Health from Brown University.
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We Are Having This Conversation Now offers a history, present, and future of AIDS through thirteen short conversations between Alexandra Juhasz and Theodore Kerr, scholars deeply embedded in HIV responses.
AIDS and the Distribution of Crises engages with the AIDS pandemic as a network of varied historical, overlapping, and ongoing crises born of global capitalism and colonial, racialized, gendered, and sexual violence.