AIDS: Whose virus is this, anyway?

It’s hard to really remember how frightened we all were of AIDS back in the 1980’s, when the existence of the disease was first widely acknowledged. You could compare it to the fear evoked by Swine Flu more recently, I suppose, except that unlike the much more democratic Swine Flu, AIDS was still the disease of junkies, poofs and hookers. It was their disease, the disease of deviants, freaks and shirt lifters, but instead of having the good grace to keep their disgusting ailments to themselves, they threatened to leak it out into the broader community. Their disgusting habits were going to kill us all. Continue reading

Strange conversations in the village where everyone speaks deaf talk

For the Invisible People project, my first trip was to visit a rural community with a very high rate of profound, prelingual hereditary deafness in Bengkala in North Bali. Around the village, both the deaf and the hearing use a totally indigenous sign language that has developed here without reference to any other sign language in the world.

Kolok Getar, describing the death of his son in a motorbike accident. Photograph by Irfan Kortschak. Copyright 2010 Irfan Kortschak / PNPM Peduli

Continue reading