Jarrett Zigon

in “HIV Is God's Blessing”

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780520267626
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520948327 | DOI:

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This chapter provides an understanding of the current HIV and injecting drug use epidemic in Russia and an explication of Russian Orthodox moral theology and human rights. The case of Andrei is used to illustrate that the rehabilitation process is not simply about overcoming addiction. One of the main goals of the Russian Orthodox Church's drug rehabilitation and HIV prevention and care program in the St. Petersburg area is to provide the opportunity for injecting drug users to live a normal life. The church emphasizes working on the “self” as a means of cultivating moral personhood. The program as a process of ethical training is a paradigm for the kind of society the Church would like to establish. Prayer, confession, and various therapeutic processes are undertaken as disciplinary practices by means of which new responsibilized subjects, or normal persons, are cultivated. The rehabilitation program is considered to be a process of ethically remaking one's moral way of being in the social world—one's moral personhood. Some of the possibilities for such an ethical project as they are lived out and experienced by rehabilitants within the assemblage of the Church-run program are outlined. In espousing a notion of human rights as a means of cultivating a particular kind of moral person, the Church participates in reproducing much of the neo-liberal order it attempts to overcome, despite claims to offer alternative human rights, moral, and ultimately social vision. Therefore, in a very real way, it is upon the bare life of rehabilitants' bodies that various regimes of power unwittingly battle for the future of Russia.

Keywords: Russian Orthodox Church; drug rehabilitation; HIV prevention; moral personhood; human rights

Chapter.  6504 words. 

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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