Archeology and Genealogy
Without suggesting any strict allegiance, I would also characterize my method as having affinities with modes of investigation employed in the work of Michel Foucault. First, my analysis is "archeological" in that it seeks to focus attention on the conditions of possibility of different forms of knowledge in different places at different times. Such an analysis concerns itself with a recovery of the immanent rules of what is sayable and unsayable, thinkable and unthinkable. Second, my account is "genealogical" insofar as it aims to disrupt any assumptions of a smooth path of development of knowledge about AIDS over time. A genealogical analysis rejects teleological accounts in order to emphasize shifts and discontinuities. By the logic of genealogy, contemporary knowledge about AIDS cannot be inferred in some automatic fashion from earlier moments in the epidemic, nor was early thinking about the epidemic predictive of a pathway to the present. Rather, without denying the links from one moment to the next, we must be attentive to gaps, breaks, and transmutations in the trajectory of knowledge development.
Finally, the notion of genealogy is consistent with my "democratic" approach to claims-making—my strategy of attending to the claims of an activist reported in the gay press in the same way that I note those of a famous scientist writing in the pages of Nature . Genealogical research, in Foucault's words, "[entertains] the claims to attention of local, discontinuous, disqualified, illegitimate knowledges against the claims of a unitary body of theory which would filter, hierarchise and order them in the name of some true knowledge and some arbitrary idea of what constitutes a science and its objects." The recovery of these "subjugated," "local," or "situated" knowledges and their
juxtaposition with formal, accredited knowledge is essential to a full understanding of the relations of power and the formation of knowledge in a given society at a given time.