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Doing Queer Love

Feminism, AIDS, and History

Lisa Diedrich

In this essay, I utilize the concept of the echo, as formulated in the historical and methodological work of Michel Foucault and Joan W. Scott, to help theorize the historical relationship between health feminism and AIDS activism. I trace the echoes between health feminism and AIDS activism in order to present a more complex history of both movements, and to try to think through the ways that the coming together of these two struggles in a particular place and time—New York City in the 1980s—created particular practices that might be effective in other times and places. The practice that I focus on here is one that I call 'doing queer love'. As I hope to show, 'doing queer love' both describes a particular history of health activism and opens up the possibility of bringing into being a different future than the one a conventional history of AIDS seems to predict. It is an historical echo that I believe we must try to hear now, not just in order to challenge a particular history of AIDS activism in the United States, but also in order to provide a model that can be useful for addressing the continuing problem of AIDS across the globe.

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Edwin Cameron

Judge Edwin Cameron (South African Supreme Court of Appeal) makes a plea for a radical change of approach and of formal health policy in relation to HIV/AIDS in South Africa. Cameron delivered this lecture at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Forum on 4 May 2006 as part of the Ronald Louw Memorial Campaign, 'Get Tested, Get Treated'. Ronald Louw was a Professor of Law at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, an AIDS treatment activist and co-founder of the Durban Gay and Lesbian Community Centre. He died of AIDS in 2005. Cameron, who was appointed by Nelson Mandela to the high court in 1994, is a high profile AIDS activist and gay rights advocate. He has written about the experience of his decision to make public his own HIV positive status in the book, Witness to AIDS (Tafelberg).

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Kuru, AIDS, and Witchcraft

Reconfiguring Culpability in Melanesia and Africa

Isak Niehaus

This article examines the significance of witchcraft accusations during the South African AIDS epidemic. In search of broader intercontextual understanding, I compare experiences of AIDS in Bushbuck ridge, where I have done fieldwork, with anthropological studies of kuru, a transmissible degenerative disease, in Papua New Guinea. Whereas scientists blamed the spread of kuru on the practice of cannibalism, those who were affected attributed it to sorcery. These dynamics resonate with the encounters between health workers and host populations during the AIDS epidemic in Bushbuckridge. Health propaganda attributed the rapid transmission of HIV to sexual promiscuity. In response, sufferers and their kin invoked witchcraft, shifting blame onto outsiders and reinforcing the relations that medical labeling threatened to disrupt. The comparison enables us to see witchcraft accusations as a means of reconfiguring culpability, cutting certain networks, and strengthening other existing configurations.

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AIDS and Postcolonial Politics

Acting Up on Science and Immigration in France

Michael J. Bosia

From a postcolonial left that challenges the French state over immigration policy and neoliberal globalization, Act Up has advocated for the social and political rights and needs of women, inmates, drug users, and immigrants with HIV/AIDS. This essay examines as well Act Up's engagement with science and globalization in response to new experimental medical trials in the Global South. Act Up's emphasis on local empowerment against global economic and social actors has earned criticism from American and South African AIDS activists, but at the same time these campaigns stress the universalist impulse imbedded in the Act Up brand of French Republican politics.

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Thabo Mbeki’s ‘AIDS Denialism’

Contradicting pan-Africanism and the African Renaissance?

Simphiwe Sesanti

In his nine years as South Africa’s president, Thabo Mbeki was known as a leading pan-Africanist and an advocate of the African Renaissance. Pan-Africanism is an ideology aimed at uniting Africans into a strong force for total liberation. The African Renaissance is a project aimed at restoring Africans’ self-esteem damaged by colonialism and slavery. During and after his presidency Mbeki was criticised by the local and international media for putting at risk hundreds of thousands of South African lives by questioning the link between HIV and AIDS, and blocking drugs that could have saved many lives. If true, this would suggest that there is a contradiction between Mbeki’s pan-Africanism and the African Renaissance, which are supposed to be life-affirming on one hand, and exposing Africans to the perils of a fatal disease, on the other. This article examines Mbeki’s opponents’ arguments, and Mbeki’s stance in the context of pan-Africanism and the African Renaissance.

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The Marketization of HIV/AIDS Governance

Public–Private Partnerships and Bureaucratic Culture in Pakistan

Ayaz Qureshi

The World Bank-financed 'Enhanced HIV and AIDS Control Program' tried to reorganize HIV/AIDS governance in Pakistan by pushing a neoliberal agenda, marketizing the provision of publicly funded HIV prevention services. NGOs and the private sector competed for contracts with the government to provide services to sex workers, drug users, transgendered people and homosexuals who were deemed 'high risk' groups for HIV. With this contractualization emerged a new bureaucratic field that emphasized 'flexible organization' and 'efficiency' in getting things done in place of the traditional bureaucratic proceduralism characteristic of the Pakistani civil service. This new corporate-style bureaucratic culture and the ambiguities of a hastily contracted (and 'efficiently' rolled out) Enhanced Program meant public funds ending up in the pockets of a few powerful actors. Instead of generating more efficiency, the marketization of services dispossessed the intended beneficiaries of the World Bank loan.

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Community Participatory Research in HIV/AIDS Prevention

An Exploration of Participation and Consensus

Jon Poehlman

This article reports on an investigation into the extent to which individual involvement in community participatory research activities on HIV/AIDS created agreement or consensus among participants from four Malawian communities about the causes, risks, and behaviours associated with AIDS transmission in their communities. In this research, cultural consensus analysis was used in an exploratory manner to measure the level of agreement among participants prior to and immediately following participation in community participatory workshops. The results demonstrate variability by community and gender in the levels of consensus, or agreement, achieved through the workshops. These findings suggest that consensus is not an automatic outcome of participation in small group interventions and in some cases can result in less agreement on community issues around HIV. Moreover, we lack a clear understanding of how consensus contributes to desired or positive change. Also discussed is the potential utility of cultural consensus analysis as a tool in evaluating the effectiveness of community participatory interventions.

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Josiane Tantchou

The aim of this study was (a) to use anthropological research tools to produce a thorough description of health providers' working conditions in a low-income country; (b) sketch the impact of a specific dimension of the national HIV/AIDS programme on this environment and (c) sketch the existence and examine the extent of burnout among health workers. We conducted intensive fieldwork in a large public hospital in one major town of the far-north region. We relied on three research tools: observations, in-depth interviews and the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI). The data were analysed manually. We found a working environment characterised by an acute lack of equipment, lack of recognition and equity, lack of community and fairness, and value conflict, all of which are factors implicated in burnout. This was exacerbated by the implementation of a psychosocial dimension in care for people with HIV/AIDS, which created exclusion and reinforced feelings of unfairness. However, despite their challenging working environment, health-care providers were not 'burned out', leading us to suggest that burnout is a syndrome of 'rigid' working environments, as opposed to 'porous' working environments.

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The Vindication of Chaka Zulu

Retreat into the Enchantment of the Past

C. Bawa Yamba

The article deals with two competing explanations advanced by local people in a Zambian village to make sense of the presence of man-eating crocodiles in the area. One faction explains the events in rational terms, while the other sees them as the work of witches, as a result of which they demand the return of a witchfinder, whose activities a decade ago had left 16 people dead. The article shows how the competing explanations are reflections of political rivalry between the local chieftainess and her detractors, who perceive her attempts to modernize the area as a way to line her own pocket. The rationalized versus enchanted definitions of events form the point of departure for examining some of the underlying premises of the extended-case method, namely, those of perceiving social phenomena as constituting an interrelated whole, and for determining when to close the flow of events for analysis.

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Jonathan A. Allan, Chris Haywood, and Frank G. Karioris

On the cover of this issue, we have another image from the Wellcome Collection. This image by ABIA (Associação Brasileira Interdisciplinar de AIDS/Grupo) is a not-for-profit organization mobilized in response to the emergence of HIV/AIDS in the