Vinh-Kim Nguyen

Vinh-Kim Nguyen is an anthropologist and doctor, and an expert in HIV treatment. He is an associate professor with the Department of social and preventive medicine at the Université de Montréal, and a research fellow at the Max-Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle, Germany. Alongside his academic work he is committed to the rights and access to treatment for people living with HIV in the Global North and South.

Vinh Kim Nguyen is one of the major international voices to offer an analysis of humanitarian aid, development, and international public health, that is at once critical and action-oriented.

His work is distinctive for its empirical originality and its theoretical and militant approach: while also conducting an ethnology of the first community HIV/AIDS treatment programmes in the Ivory Coast, Mali and Burkina Faso from 1994 onwards, Vinh Kim Nguyen campaigned, as a doctor and an activist, for access to antiretroviral therapies in Africa, well before the boom in the 'AIDS industry' (including in the social sciences) in the 2000s.

Vinh Kim Nguyen's work and its theoretical originality has influenced the discipline of anthropology. Continuing in the line of Michel Foucault's works, he has proposed several concepts for considering new forms of biopolitics in a context of globalisation, crisis in the welfare state, and epidemiological shock. He therefore sees in the history of international medical interventions in Africa, the emergence of a new form of political power: therapeutic sovereignty, based both on a rationale of triage (to identify patients in need) and of exception (epidemiological emergency justifying the circumvention of national sovereignties and the rights they guarantee). The originality of his approach also resides in its critical interaction with the biomedical sciences, making it possible to use biology and molecular epidemiology as tools to understanding the biosocial transformation of the contemporary world and revise the theoretical framework of the anthropology of globalisation.

Vinh-Kim Nguyen received the Aurore award from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council in 2007.

Selective bibliography

"Science, technology, power and sex: PrEP and HIV-positive gay men in Paris”, avec J Brisson, Culture, Health & Sexuality, 1-12, 2017

“Vaccination and blood sampling acceptability during Ramadan fasting month: A cross-sectional study in Conakry, Guinea”. Et alt., Vaccine 35 (19), 2569-2574, 2017

“Viral speed: Infrastructure, Connectivity, Ontogeny; or, Notes on the Molecular Epidemiology of Epidemics”. Cultural Anthropology 32 (1), 28-34, 2017