Event—Scholarly Seminars

Hannah Waits, Harvard University


Missionary Positions: How American Evangelicals Learned to Love Global AIDS Relief, Hannah Waits

When the AIDS epidemic began in the 1980s, US evangelicals were some of the most implacable foes of AIDS victims domestically, but by the early 2000s evangelicals had become the face of AIDS relief internationally. This dramatic shift was possible because missionaries reshaped American evangelicals’ views of AIDS in the 1990s-2000s. Drawing on never-before-seen sources, this paper traces evangelical missionary work in the 1980s-2000s and demonstrates that missionaries shifted US evangelicals’ understanding of AIDS by recasting the epidemic within the racialized affective hierarchies of missions, thereby rousing white evangelicals’ sympathy for and desire to save black and brown suffering bodies across the world.

Respondent: Dan Hummel, The University of Wisconsin-Madison