Accepted Paper:

Moral responses to an HIV/AIDS epidemic: a comparison of Russian Orthodox Church and secular NGO discourse and practice  

Author:

Jarrett Zigon (University of Virginia)

Paper short abstract:

This paper considers the different approaches taken by the Russian Orthodox Church and secular NGOs to the HIV/AIDS crisis in Russia. In particular it focuses on the transnational aspect of the moral discourses that underlie these approaches from the perspective of diffusionism.

Paper long abstract:

Russia now has one of the fastest growing HIV rates in the world. While NGOs have been active in the country since the mid-1990s, other institutions, such as the Russian government and the Russian Orthodox Church, are just now beginning to actively respond to the growing crisis. One reason why these institutions have begun to do so is that HIV infections are beginning to spread to the general working population and women, thus adding a significant threat to the already worrying "demographic crisis."

This paper considers the different approaches taken by the Russian Orthodox Church and secular NGOs to the HIV/AIDS crisis in Russia. In particular it focuses on the transnational aspect of the moral discourses that underlie these approaches from the perspective of diffusionism. In considering the way in which the concept of human rights is utilized by each of these institutions, I will explicate the transnational influences of HIV prevention in Russia and how these influences are co-opted and integrated into Russian and Orthodox Christian understandings of the moral person. Additionally, because the majority of the funding received by these institutions comes from international funding agencies and other non-Russian sources, I will pay particular attention to how the moral discourse and practices of these institutions shift as does the source of their funding. This paper, then, is an attempt to explicate from a diffusionist perspective the transnational flow of morality as it finds expression in NGO and Russian Orthodox HIV prevention programs in St. Petersburg.

Panel W105
Globalisation as diffusion? Critical re-assessments and contemporary researches