Sheila Giffen

Community Mobilization and the Biopolitics of Race in AIDS Writing and Activism
Faculty of Arts
Dina Al-Kassim

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I chose to pursue a graduate degree because it allows me the time, space and resources to explore research questions that I care deeply about. I’m also grateful for the opportunity to learn from outstanding faculty members at UBC who continue to guide and inspire my work.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

I chose to pursue my PhD at the University of British Columbia, where I received my Master’s in 2013, because of its unmatched academic strengths in critical race studies, Indigenous studies and postcolonial studies, paired with the University’s strong commitment to community engagement and social justice. Studying at UBC gives me the opportunity to work with scholars in the English department and to make connections in interdisciplinary programs including the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice, First Nations and Indigenous Studies and Science and Technology Studies. In addition to being a top research institution with expertise in the fields germane to my study, UBC is also dedicated to social justice work and fosters scholarship rooted in and emerging from community-based research.


Learn more about Sheila's research

My research explores contemporary AIDS writing and activism from North America and South Africa in the context of colonial dispossession and racial violence. In particular, my project considers how artists and activists across global colonized space have responded to the racialization of the epidemic. Drawing on fiction, film and sites of activism, I consider how these texts reflect on the biopolitics of race and disease and provide a lens through which to examine the contours of politics, community, and resistance in the midst of the AIDS crisis. Focusing on marginalized voices from Indigenous and racialized communities, my project considers how aesthetic renderings of the disease not only convey the colonial and racial underpinnings of a public health crisis but also propose alternative forms of knowledge production and community formation.