* This presentation was originally recorded in English. Closed captioning is available in both English and French.
There have been many comparisons between historical and ongoing responses to the HIV epidemic and current responses to COVID-19. Based on academic and activist projects examining the intersections of police, the criminal justice system, and public health institutions, this talk will trace the ways in which communicable diseases, namely HIV and COVID-19, have been policed and criminalized in Canada, and how communities have collectively responded. Canada is a leading country in the world for criminalizing people living with HIV, a practice which targets many queer men, as well as Black, Indigenous and people of colour.
This punitive legacy has laid the groundwork for the intensified policing of public and private life under new COVID-19 regulations, including snitch-lines and forms of surveillance. Such criminalization of COVID-19 has created even greater insecurity and uncertainty for queers, Black, Indigenous and people of colour, people living with HIV, people who sell and who use drugs, and people who sell sex. Finally, this talk will look to harm reduction, racial justice organizing, and mutual aid, to outline a path forward for collective action and community care.
Alexander McClelland focuses his work on the intersections of life, law and disease, where he has developed a range of collaborative and interdisciplinary writing, academic, activist, and artistic projects to address issues of criminalization, sexual autonomy, surveillance, drug liberation, and the construction of knowledge on HIV. Alexander recently joined the Institute of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Carleton University as an Assistant Professor. From 2019-2020, he was a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Ottawa in the Department of Criminology. He is also the co-creator of the Policing the Pandemic Mapping Project, a public criminology, data justice, and counter-mapping project which tracks the enforcement of COVID-19 regulations across Canada. The project has been featured widely in the media, including by the BBC news, the CBC, the Globe and Mail, and the Toronto Star. In 2019, he presented his doctoral research findings on the harms of criminalizing HIV non-disclosure in Canada as an invited expert witness to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. His work has been funded by CIHR, SSHRC, Concordia University, University of Ottawa, and the Institute for Anarchist Studies. He is a member of the Canadian Coalition to Reform HIV Criminalization and the HIV Justice Network Global Advisory Panel.