Aids as an Apocalyptic Metaphor in North America
Published: May 1997© 1997
216 Pages, 5.98 x 8.99 x 0.60 in
In a single decade, AIDS has grown to pandemic proportions. The combined forces of medical research and public education have thus far failed to halt the spread of the disease, which remains mysterious, stigmatizing, and fatal. In this highly original study, Susan Palmer explores the healing practices, metaphors, and apocalyptic fantasies of various religious, racial, and sexual minority groups as they respond to the AIDS threat.
Palmer looks at the response to AIDS by specific groups as diverse as white and black identity movements, gay spirituality circles, communal and millenarian cults, and sci-fi and horror films. Her study reveals a proliferation of AIDS metaphors that refer variously to medieval plagues, social disorder, decline of the nuclear family, and supernatural powers. She argues that the human body tends to become a symbol that mirrors the social body, and she finds this process especially dramatic in persecuted marginal groups.
Well known as a researcher and writer on new religious movements in Europe and North America, Susan Palmer brings experience and insight to this study of the metaphors surrounding alternative spirituality and sexuality.