Changing Categories: Migrants in epidemiological, preventive and legal discourses on HIV and tuberculosis - a comparison of Germany and Great Britain


Since the 1990s there has been an increase in knowledge produced in the health sciences about the health and illness of migrants, particularly regarding communicable infectious diseases. The epidemiological categories and classifications which serve to generate this knowledge are changing. The aim of this three (3) year research project is a comparison of discursive epidemiological practices in Great Britain and Germany with regard to two infectious diseases, HIV/Aids and tuberculosis. The research will be informed by the sociology of knowledge and discourse analysis as it reconstructs the categories used to produce knowledge about migrants.  How the categories become incorporated into preventive and legal discourses and how ‘power-effects’ are deployed for example in travel, testing and residency regulations as well as in the definition of prevention target groups, will be investigated. The project will make a contribution to an understanding of the sociality of epidemiological knowledge and its effects. The comparison of actor formations and speaker positions will shed light on the previously unexplored dynamic of changing categories in the health sciences.

The project’s methodological approach is based on the research programme of the sociology of knowledge approach to discourse analysis and includes document analysis and expert interviews in Germany, Great Britain and at the EU level. A conference will be held during the course of the project.