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Social Sensations of Symptoms

Embodied Socialities of HIV and Trauma in Uganda

Lotte Meinert and Susan Reynolds Whyte

Abstract

The interpretation of sensations and the recognition of symptoms of a sickness, as well as the movement to seek treatment, have long been recognised in medical anthropology as inherently social processes. Based on cases of HIV and trauma (PTSD) in Uganda, we show that even the first signs and sensations of sickness can be radically social. The sensing body can be a ‘social body’ – a family, a couple, a network – a unit that transcends the individual body. In this article, we focus on four aspects of the sociality of sensations and symptoms: mode of transmission, the shared experience of sensations/symptoms, differential recognition of symptoms, and the embodied sociality of treatment.

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Epidemic Projectification

AIDS Responses in Uganda as Event and Process

Lotte Meinert and Susan Reynolds Whyte

This article explores the responses to the AIDS epidemic in Uganda as events and processes of projectification. AIDS projects became epidemic. Prevention and treatment projects supported by outside donors spread to an extent that made it hard for some to see the role of the Ugandan state and health-care system. We describe the projectified AIDS landscape in Uganda as projects make themselves present in the life of our interlocutors. We argue that the response in Uganda was syndemic; many different factors worked together to make an effect, and the epidemic of responses did not undermine the Ugandan state but played a crucial part in rebuilding the nation after decades of civil war. A problematic consequence of the projectified emergency response to epidemics such as HIV/AIDS, which is a long-wave event, is that projects have a limited time frame, and can be scaled down or withdrawn depending on political commitment.