Synopses & Reviews
In the years since the end of apartheid, South Africans have enjoyed a progressive constitution, considerable access to social services for the poor and sick, and a booming economy that has made their nation into one of the wealthiest on the continent. At the same time, South Africa experiences extremely unequal income distribution, and its citizens suffer the highest prevalence of HIV in the world. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu has noted, andldquo;AIDS is South Africaandrsquo;s new apartheid.andrdquo;
In Ancestors and Antiretrovirals, Claire Laurier Decoteau backs up Tutuandrsquo;s assertion with powerful arguments about how this came to pass. Decoteau traces the historical shifts in health policy after apartheid and describes their effects, detailing, in particular, the changing relationship between biomedical and indigenous health care, both at the national and the local level. Decoteau tells this story from the perspective of those living with and dying from AIDS in Johannesburgandrsquo;s squatter camps. At the same time, she exposes the complex and often contradictory ways that the South African government has failed to balance the demands of neoliberal capital with the considerable health needs of its population.
"Decoteau has undertaken ten years of research in South Africa, artfullyand#160;presenting the lived experience of people infected with HIV/AIDS residing in the shantytowns around Johannesburg,and#160;and interweaving them with a sophisticated theoretical discussion of the complex issues surrounding the politics ofand#160;HIV/AIDS in South Africa. She does a fantastic job in giving voice to the people caught in the middle of a multitudeand#160;of crisscrossing processes and structures."
"Ancestors and Antiretroviralsand#160;is a highly accessible book for non-sociologists that does not sacrifice analytic rigor in its presentation of peoplesand#8217; lives. Decoteau is a gifted photographer and purveyor of mixed methods who skillfully interlaces seemingly divergent theorists to articulate complex distinctions and integrations of tradition and modernity."
"Decoteau eloquently traces the politics of HIV and AIDS from 1994 through 2010 in Post-Apartheid South Africa. She describes important shifts in health policy and nestles them in real-life stories of people living with HIV and dying from AIDS. Her ethnographic data, collected over ten years, highlights several key issues including the changing relationship between indigenous and biomedical health care and the complex and often contradictory way that the South African government failed to balance a neoliberal existence (i.e., political movement beginning in the 1960s that blends traditional liberal concerns for social justice with an emphasis on economic growth.) with the health needs of its citizens."
"Decoteauand#8217;s ambitious project spans a 14-year history (1996and#8211;2010) during which South Africaand#8217;s national HIV/AIDS policies swung between extremes as the countryand#8217;s leaders attempted to find a way forward amid deepening inequalities and a worsening epidemic."
and#160;andldquo;In Ancestors and Antiretrovirals, Claire Decoteau draws together ethnographic fieldwork, unique insights into the experience of people suffering from AIDS at a time of callous governmental indifference, and a thorough reading of cultural politics to situate South Africa in the global economic system. Decoteau not only illuminates the many still baffling aspects of the epidemic and post-apartheid politics in South Africa, but challenges some of the core assumptions of Western social science. This is essential reading.andrdquo;
and#8220;Claire Laurier Decoteau is at the forefront of the new global sociology. Her articulation of analysis with ethnographic detail is expert, yet reads effortlessly; her ability to view the political complexities of South Africa from a new theoretical angle is admirable; and her depth of understanding about what is at stake in the fight over AIDS is relevant to anyone who wonders how power works all over the globe. Ancestors and Antiretrovirals will be an iconic text for a new generation of global work, and marks the emergence of a bold new theoretical voice in sociology.and#8221;
and#8220;Ancestors and Antiretrovirals is timely and relevant. . . . Decoteauand#8217;s inventive use of theory, able analysis of discourse, and commitment to tether her work to lived experience provide a model for young scholars. The postcolonial paradox Decoteau formulatesand#8212;and her examination of the discursive uses of and#8216;traditionand#8217; and and#8216;modernityand#8217; to resolve its abiding challengeand#8212;not only illuminates AIDS conflicts of the recent past, but also offers useful tools for analyzing current and future political contestation in postapartheid South Africa.and#8221;
Praise for the first edition:
Farmers sensitive exploration of the lives and deaths of the people at [the village of] Do Kay give his study a distinctly human face and an emotional edge.... The book is at the same time fiercely personal and coldly objective. The result is both moving and illuminating.” Science
Farmer renders a richly layered and nuanced ethnographic portrait.” Harvard Educational Review
This superbly crafted volume is dedicated to explaining and refuting a popular U.S. belief that AIDS came to the United States from Haiti. . . . Farmer has made an outstanding scholarly contribution to the anthropology of suffering, the assessment of illness as perceived and experienced by a patient embedded in an interlocking fabric of culture and history.” Medical Anthropology Quarterly
Does the scientific theory” that HIV came to North America from Haiti stem from underlying attitudes of racism and ethnocentrism in the United States rather than from hard evidence? Award-winning author and anthropologist-physician Paul Farmer answers with this, the first full-length ethnographic study of AIDS in a poor society. First published in 1992 this new edition has been updated and a new preface added.
About the Author
Claire Laurier Decoteau is assistant professor of sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she teaches courses in social theory, the sociology of knowledge, and health and medicine. She is also a research associate in the Department of Sociology at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. She lives in Chicago.
Table of Contents
Preface to the 2006 Edition
Preface to the First Edition
Part I: Misfortunes without Number
2 The Water Refugees
3 The Remembered Valley
4 The Alexis Advantage: The Retaking of Kay
5 The Struggle for Health
6 1986 and After: Narrative Truth and Political Change
Part II: AIDS Comes to a Haitian Village
10 "A Place Ravaged by AIDS"
Part III: The Exotic and the Mundane: HIV in Haiti
11 A Chronology of the AIDS/HIV Epidemic in Haiti
12 HIV in Haiti: The Dimensions of the Problem
13 Haiti and the "Accepted Risk Factors"
14 AIDS in the Caribbean: The "West Atlantic Pandemic"
Part IV: AIDS, History, Political Economy
15 Many Masters: The European Domination of Haiti
16 The Nineteenth Century: One Hundred Years of Solitude
17 The United States and the People with History
Part V: AIDS and Accusation
18 AIDS and Sorcery: Accusation in the Village
19 AIDS and Racism: Accusation in the Center
20 AIDS and Empire: Accusation in the Periphery
21 Blame, Cause, Etiology, and Accusation
22 Conclusion: AIDS and an Anthropology of Suffering