Guilty or Angry? The politics of emotion in accounts of hepatitis C transmission
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In accounts of hepatitis C, subtle distinctions are frequently made between “innocent” and “guilty” forms of transmission. Although such distinctions have been extensively critiqued, they continue to manifest in indirect ways, such as the articulation of emotions. We argue for a critical approach to the way in which emotions function in accounts of hepatitis C by analyzing textual accounts of hepatitis C, and interviews with people who have hepatitis C in Australia. Drawing upon the work of theorist Sara Ahmed, we argue that emotions work to constitute subjects, objects, and collectivities, including some individuals and excluding others. In this regard, the articulation of emotion can contribute to the marginalization and stigmatization of people living with hepatitis C. We also explore ways people with hepatitis C negotiate frameworks of guilt/responsibility. We conclude by considering how health promotion and policy texts might better address emotional responses to diagnosis without reproducing stigmatizing assumptions.
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