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.
"One of the most exceptional studies of the response to HIV and AIDS." --Richard Parker, Columbia University
"This is a sobering and complex book, and the powerful ethnographic excavation of the
multiple factors transforming everyday intimacy in contemporary South Africa is a
testament to Hunter's skills as a researcher and author." --Gender, Place and Culture Indiana University Press
"Mark Hunter's work is an important contribution to the historical and anthropological literature on the South African HIV/AIDS epidemic and should be considered required reading for scholars and graduate students interested in the social, cultural, and economic dynamics of post-apartheid South Africa." --Journal of African History
"Hunter writes skilfully, building on important topics to explain the many layers of influence on the everyday worlds of people affected by HIV/AIDS. This powerful and complex book would appeal to anthropologists interested in historical ethnographies or HIV/AIDS and also to those in public health with an interest in understanding sexual behaviours that can contribute to HIV/AIDS." --sti.bmj.com Indiana University Press
"C]ontribute[s] a stirring history of the present of South Africa, and of the unequal world of which it has been and remains a materially and ideologically formative part." --South African Historical Journal
"Love in the Time of AIDS shows that detailed ethnographic works are no longer the preserve of anthropologists. The monograph is written in an accessible style, makes excellent use of case material, and shows the importance of taking local isiZulu concepts seriously." --Transformation
"Mark Hunter's Love in the Time of AIDS is one of the most important books on AIDS in Africa that has been published so far.... Among its many virtues, Mark Hunter's book does well in reminding us that, though often difficult, even in the hardest conditions love is possible." --African Studies Review Indiana University Press
"The book is rich in ethnographic detail, especially life stories, and very convincing in its analysis." --, Intl. Journal of African Historical Studies
"Hunter's book deserves the widest possible audience--for its superb methodology and handling of its sources and materials as much as for its powerful and moving account of one of the worst public health disasters of modern times." --Progress in Development Studies
"Love in the Time of AIDS is an exceptional book.... [It] challenges dominant assumptions about the spread of AIDS and foregrounds the real everyday lives of people in contexts of deep poverty and violence.... This book is a must read for all those who recognise AIDS beyond epidemiology." --Global Public Health
"Hunter avoids economism through demonstrating the real emotions of love and intimacy among women and men linked in a devastating HIV epidemic. His study is a 21st century classic." --writingrights.nu.org.za
"Beautifully, powerfully, and movingly written. The best analysis I have seen not only of the reasons for the HIV/AIDS pandemic in southern Africa, but of its wider socioeconomic, cultural, and political dynamics." --Shula Marks, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
"Many books continue to be written on the phenomenon of AIDS. Most of these limit themselves to particular facets of this multifaceted disease. Love in the time of AIDS attempts, and achieves, a remarkable comprehensiveness." --English Academy Review
In this timely and important book, Hunter interrogates misperceptions about AIDS, sexuality, human rights, and gender injustices that perpetuate harmful constructions of African sexuality. Challenging the assumption that Africa is 'loveless,' an emancipatory concept typically reserved for those living in modern Western democracies... Hunter restores questions of love, tenderness, and intimacy in this rich ethnography of gender and sexuality in South Africa.American Journal of Sociology
"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;
In some parts of South Africa, more than one in three people are HIV positive. Love in the Time of AIDS explores transformations in notions of gender and intimacy to try to understand the roots of this virulent epidemic. By living in an informal settlement and collecting love letters, cell phone text messages, oral histories, and archival materials, Mark Hunter details the everyday social inequalities that have resulted in untimely deaths. Hunter shows how first apartheid and then chronic unemployment have become entangled with ideas about femininity, masculinity, love, and sex and have created an economy of exchange that perpetuates the transmission of HIV/AIDS. This sobering ethnography challenges conventional understandings of HIV/AIDS in South Africa.
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
A Note on Racial Terms
List of Acronyms
1. Gender and AIDS in an Unequal World
2. Mandeni: "The AIDS Capital of KwaZulu-Natal"
Part 1. Revisiting Intimacy and Apartheid
3. Providing Love: Male Migration and Building a Rural Home
4. Urban Respectability: Sundumbili Township, 196494
5. Shacks in the Cracks of Apartheid: Industrial Women and the Changing Political Economy and Geography of Intimacy
Part 2. Intimacy after Democracy, 1994
6. Postcolonial Geographies: Being "Left Behind" in the New South Africa
7. Independent Women: Rights amid Wrongs, and Men's Broken Promises
8. Failing Men: Modern Masculinities amid Unemployment
9. All You Need Is Love? The Materiality of Everyday Sex and Love
Part 3. Interventions
10. The Politics of Gender, Intimacy, and AIDS