Chase Ledin is a cultural historian, medical sociologist, and sexual health researcher. He is currently a PhD researcher in cultural theory and sociology at the University of Edinburgh. His thesis, supervised by Glyn Davis, Lukas Engelmann, and Ingrid Young, explores the social implications of “post-AIDS” in contemporary US and UK societies. The project draws on a variety of archival materials, moving-image productions, public health campaigns, and previous empirical scholarship to understand the relationship between biomedical, social and cultural interpretations of HIV intervention strategies since 1995.
Particularly, Chase is interested in how biomedical treatments (e.g. ARVs, PEP, PrEP, etc.) are documented in social theory and cultural representations of chronic HIV. His work analyses the boundaries of biomedical technologies, cultural histories and public health promotion in order to make sense of the changing and uneven distributions of HIV/AIDS histories. Looking at materials from the mid-1990s to the present, his research asks: What futures are imagined and produced through strategies to reduce HIV transmission? Drawing on sociological theory, how have post-AIDS frameworks been employed to study the social and cultural conditions of communities living with/among chronic HIV? What do post-AIDS approaches offer societal perceptions of health and illness? From a cultural studies perspective, how have post-AIDS approaches empowered alternative conceptions of sexual possibility and sociability? In answering these questions, this project contributes to ongoing conversations about intervention efficacy, technological optimism and determinism, and changing medical and somatic states of fatality and chronicity. It speaks across a number of disciplines, including medical sociology, cultural anthropology, public health, science and technology studies (STS), queer and cultural studies, to understand how the “futures” of HIV are framed in the real-world processes of biomedical, technological, social, and cultural development.
Previously, Chase received a Bachelor of Arts (2014) in Honours English and Sociology of Sexuality from The Ohio State University. In his final year, he served as a lead researcher for the gender-inclusive housing task force. He wrote a benchmark study on the use of heteronormative ideologies in the creation of gender non-conforming spaces in university housing policy.
He completed a Master of Arts (2016) in Contemporary Literature, Culture and Theory at King’s College London. In his thesis, titled “The ‘End of AIDS’: Toward a Theory of Death in the New Chronic Mode,” he employed critical theory and discourse analysis to examine the ideological functions of “end-of-AIDS” discourses in 1990s and 2000s American media. Chase argued that focus on HIV as a liveable condition, emerging in the late 1990s, altered the ontological category of death itself out of gay male discourses about experiences of life with HIV. The assimilation of effective antiretrovirals induced a perception of “chronic life” which did not retain the history of AIDS’s “death-defined” features. The change in this narrative structure contributed to ongoing memory tactics for recalling and historicising the global pandemic. Post-AIDS ideology laid the groundwork for a shift in cultural identification. This included a re-negotiation of the forms of affect that emerged from caregiving and community activism during the “first-wave” epidemic and the move to conceptualise HIV/AIDS as approaching an (“inevitable”) end.
Outside of his research, he is interested in the development of queer sexual health education and policy in Scotland, and the movement to standardise HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) use across the United Kingdom. His creative work contributes to ongoing projects to historicise and archive HIV/AIDS narratives. Through his work researching and teaching the sociology of health and illness, Chase explores the history of western medicine, health narratology, and medical humanities. He is also working on papers related to polyamory, HIV and STI prevention, healthcare and clinical practice, and the ethics of sexual health education.
For more about Chase’s current research activities, please see his curriculum vitae.