"HIV/Aids and Social Relations:

The Politics of Illness and Healing in Contemporary Africa"



ANT4930 section 4638

ANG6930 section 4643

AFS4905 section 4636

AFS6905 section 4637


Fall 2005


Wednesday 1.55pm-4.55pm; Matherly Room 4



Professor:        Dr. Hansjoerg Dilger

Contact:           Center for African Studies

427 Grinter Hall

P.O. Box 115560

Gainesville, FL 32611-5560

Tel#:                392-2187, ext. 238

Office hours:   Tuesday 4.00pm-6.00pm, Thursday 11.00am-12.00am

Email:                         hdilger@africa.ufl.edu



Course Description

This course is an introduction to the social science literature on HIV/AIDS in Africa. We will start with reading the classical texts of Susan Sontag and Paula Treichler who have analysed the metaphorical nature of AIDS in our own society. We will then go on to explore how the politics of illness and healing in Africa's HIV/AIDS epidemic have been shaped by international, national and local power relations as well as by cultural and religious concepts of gender, family, illness and healing. Case studies will include examples from South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania, Ghana, Nigeria and Zambia.



Susan Sontag. 2002 [1978, 1989]. Illness As Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors.

Hanne O. Mogensen. 1995. AIDS is a Kind of Kahungo that Kills: The Challenge of Using Local Narratives when Exploring AIDS among the Tonga of Southern Zambia. Oslo: Scandinavian University Press.

Catherine Campbell. 2003. Letting Them Die: Why HIV/AIDS Prevention Programmes Fail. Oxford: James Currey.


The three books should be available in area book stores. Your additional readings have been collected together in a Course Reader available at Orange & Blue Textbooks (309 NW 13th Street).






Course Requirements


10% Class participation (50 points)

This is a seminar. It is required that you participate in ALL class meetings and actively contribute to the discussions.

Active participation means that for each class you prepare questions based on your readings and that you contribute to the discussion. You should show that you are able to engage in group discussions which means that you listen carefully to the arguments of your colleagues and respond to them in a constructive and non-insulting manner.

PLEASE NOTE: Unapproved absence results in a 25 point reduction from your final overall grade total.

NO CELLPHONE POLICY: If your cellphone goes off in class you will be asked to leave the class and not to come back on that day. This will count as if you have not attended class on that day.


10 % Discussion leaders (50 points)

A team of 2-3 students will be assigned for each class to act as leaders of the group discussion. The team will be responsible for briefly summarizing the main arguments of the respective readings (10-20 minutes, depending on the length of the text) and formulating challenging and critical points for discussion.

If a video will be shown on the day in which you are discussion leader you should make sure to watch the movie ahead of time and discuss possible issues topics for class discussion with me.


20% Interviews on HIV/AIDS (100 points)[*]

For the mid-term essay (5 pages, double-spaced, 12 pt. font) you are supposed to do three short interviews with people from your surroundings (friends, fellow students, relatives).

The questions for the interviews should be based on the readings and in-class discussions from week one to seven. The goal of your short fieldtrip could be to find out (please choose one of the topics or think of other relevant questions):

§           How your interviewees think about AIDS in Africa and what they know about the epidemic there

§           Why it is, according to their view, that the African continent (or the Third World in general) is affected so strongly by HIV/AIDS

§           If your interviewees consider AIDS as still being a problem in the US and what their views of “risk groups” are

§           If AIDS is still a stigmatised disease in the US and what this means for being HIV-positive

§           If they know/knew people with HIV/AIDS and what experiences those people make/have made with their illness

The results of the interviews and an outline of the mid-term essay are to be presented in class. The presentation should include a general statement of the topic and its relevance for our class readings, a short summary and analysis of the interview results, and a conclusion. While the names of your interviewees are to be kept anonymous you should make clear in your presentation / essay the social background from which your interviewees speak, and what this suggests for the statements they make. Make use of direct quotations if possible. (Given the consent of your interview partners you can tape the interviews). Append your interview question to the essay.

The mid-term essay is due on October 26 (to be posted in my mailbox at the Center for African Studies until 6 pm).



30% Three short reflection essays (150 points)

You will be required to write three short “reflection essays” (50 point each) during the term. These essays should be based on the readings, videos and discussions from weeks 3,6, and 14. In these essays (3 pages, double-spaced, 12 pt. font) you should give:

§           a general statement of the topic (5 points)

§           a summary of the main arguments and the main theoretical / methodological approach of the readings and videos discussed in class; this should also include a statement on differences between the individual texts as well as on continuities in scholarly discussion (20 points)

§           the main points raised during the entailing group discussion (15 points)

§           a critical assessment of the texts based on you own opinion (10 points)

The essays are due no later than the start of class of the following week (September 14, October 5, November 30). They are to be posted in my mailbox at the Center for African Studies.


30% Final Exam (200)

The exact format of the exam will be discussed in class. You will be asked to hand in possible topics for the final essay in week 14 (November 23). I will then choose 5 topics from your submissions which I will present in class on November 30. For the final exam I will again choose one topic on which you have to write your final essay. Your essay will be around four pages long.

DATE: Wednesday, December 14; 3:00pm-5:00pm


Grading Scale:

91-100%         A

85-89%           B+

80-84%           B

75-79%           C+

70-74%           C

65-69%           D+

60-64%           D

below 60%      E



You should always feel free to ask questions and join in the discussion in class. However, if there are any issues that we cannot resolve in class, you are encouraged to use my office hours or just send me an email. I look forward to a rewarding semester with you all.


Students with disabilities: Students with disabilities that may affect their performance in class or which require special accommodations should contact the Dean of Students’ Office (www.dso.ufl.edu/drp/) immediately at the beginning of the semester so that appropriate arrangements can be made.


Academic dishonesty: Academic dishonesty of any sort, including plagiarism or handing in the work of others as your own, will be dealt with strictly in accordance with university policy. It is your own responsibility to know what constitutes academic dishonesty and university policy on it. See: http://www.dso.ufl.edu/judicial/procedures/honestybrochure.html




Class Schedule and Readings


Week One, August 24th


Movie: “6000 a Day: An Account of a Catastrophe Foretold”

Director: Philip Brooks

(France 2001, 55 minutes)



The Social, Cultural and Political Construction of HIV/AIDS


Week Two, August 31st

Susan Sontag. 2002 [1978, 1989]. Illness As Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors.

Paula Treichler. 1999. “AIDS, Homophobia and Biomedical Discourse. An Epidemic of Signification”. In: Treichler, Paula A., How to Have Theory in an Epidemic. Cultural Chronicles of AIDS. Durham: Duke University Press. Pp. 11-41.


Week Three, September 7th

Paula Treichler. 1999. “AIDS and HIV Infection in the Third World: A First World Chronicle.” In: Treichler, Paula A., How to Have Theory in an Epidemic. Cultural Chronicles of AIDS. Durham: Duke University Press. Pp. 99-126.

John C. Caldwell, Pat Caldwell and Pat Quiggin. 1989. “The social context of AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa”. Population and Development Review 15 (2): 185-234.

Gilles Bibeau and Duncan Pedersen. 2002. “A Return to Scientific Racism in Medical Social Sciences.” In: Nichter, Mark and Margaret Lock (eds.), New Horizons in Medical Anthropology. Essays in Honour of Charles Leslie. London: Routledge. Pp. 141-171.


Week Four, September 14th [Reflection Essay from week three due]

Virginia van der Vliet. 1994. “Apartheid and the Politics of AIDS.” In: Feldman, Douglas (ed.), Global AIDS Policy. Westport, Connecticut: Bergin and Garvey, 107-128.
Deborah Posel. 2005. “Sex, Death and the Fate of the Nation: Reflections on the Politicization of Sexuality in Post-Apartheid South Africa”. Africa 75 (2): 125-153.
Movie: “Search for Answers”
Director: Joseph Davidow

(Finland 2002, 52 minutes)

[Background Reading: Nancy Scheper-Hughes. 1993. “AIDS, Public Health, and Human Rights in Cuba.” The Lancet 342,October 16: 965-967]



From Impact to Agency:

Women, Men and Young People in the Context of the Epidemic


Week Five, September 21st

Tony Barnett and Alan Whiteside. 2002. “The Impact of HIV/AIDS on Societies”. In: Barnett, Tony and Alan Whiteside (eds.), AIDS in the Twenty-First Century. Disease and Globalization. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 159-315.

International Crisis Group. 2004. HIV/AIDS as a Security Issue. Lessons from Uganda. ICG Issues Report N°3. Kampala/Brussels, 16 April 2004. 18 Pages.


Week Six, September 28th [Reflection Essay from week five due]

Paul Farmer. 1996. “Woman, Poverty and AIDS” (Chapter 1). In: Farmer, Paul, Margaret Conors & Janie Simmons (eds.), Women, Poverty and AIDS - Sex, Drugs and Structural Violence. Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 3-38.

Liv Haram. 1995. “Negotiating Sexuality in Times of Economic Want: The Young and Modern Meru Women.” In:  Klepp, Knut-Inge, Paul M. Biswalo and Aud Talle (eds.), Young People at Risk. Fighting AIDS in Northern Tanzania. Oslo: Scandinavian University Press, 31-48.

Fiona Scorgie. 2002. “Virginity Testing and the Politics of Sexual Responsibility: Implications for Aids Intervention.” African Studies 61 (1): 55-75.

Movie: “Mother to Child”

Director: Jane Lipman

(South Africa, 40 minutes)


Week Seven, October 5th

Hansjörg Dilger. 2003. “Sexuality, Aids and the Lures of Modernity: Reflexivity and Morality Among Young People in Rural Tanzania.” Medical Anthropology 22 (1): 23-52.

Margrethe Silberschmidt. 2001. “Disempowerment of Men in Rural and Urban East Africa: Implications for Male Identity and Sexual Behavior.” World Development 29 (4): 657-671.

Philip Setel. 1996. “Aids as a Paradox of Manhood and Development in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania.” Social Science and Medicine 43 (8): 1169-1178.

Movie: “A Miner’s Tale”

Directors: Nic Hofmeyr and Gabriel Mondlane

(Mozambique/South Africa, 40 minutes)


Week Eight, October 12th

No class: Use the time to do the interviews for your mid-term essay


Week Nine, October 19th

Oral presentation of field interviews and short outline of your mid-term essay (5 minutes for each student)



October 26: Mid-Term Essay due


Living with a Stigmatised Disease


Week Ten, October 26th

Angelo A. Alonzo and Nancy R. Reynolds. 1995. “Stigma, HIV and AIDS: An Exploration and Elaboration of a Stigma Trajectory. Social Science and Medicine 41 (3): 303–315.

Anarfi, John Kwasi. 1995. “The Condition and Care of AIDS Victims in Ghana: AIDS Sufferers and Their Relations.” Health Transition Review, Supplement to Vol. 5: 253-263.

Frederick Kaijage. 1997. “Social Exclusion and the Social History of Disease: The Impact of HIV/AIDS and the Changing Concept of the Family in Northwestern Tanzania.” In: McGrath, Simon, Charles Jedrej, Kenneth King and Jack Thompson (eds.), Rethinking African History. University of Edinburgh: Centre of African Studies, 331-356.

Rebeeca L. Upton. 2003. “Women Have no Tribe. Connecting Carework, Gender, and Migration in an Era of HIV/AIDS in Botswana.” Gender & Society 17 (2): 3124-322.


Week Eleven, November 2nd

Hanne O. Mogensen. 1995. AIDS is a Kind of Kahungo that Kills: The Challenge of Using Local Narratives when Exploring AIDS among the Tonga of Southern Zambia. Oslo: Scandinavian University Press.

Christian Bawa Yamba. 1997. “Cosmologies in Turmoil: Witchfinding and AIDS in Chiawa, Zambia.” Africa 67 (2): 200-223.


Week Twelve, November 9th

Robert C. Garner. 2000. “Safe Sects? Dynamic Religion and AIDS in South Africa.” The Journal of Modern African Studies 38 (1): 41–69.

Frederick Klaits. 1998. “Making a Good Death: AIDS and Social Belonging in an Independent Church in Gaborone.” In: Botswana Notes and Records 30: 101–119.

Daniel Jordan Smith. 2004. “Youth, Sin and Sex in Nigeria: Christianity and HIV/AIDS-Related Beliefs and Behaviour among Rural-Urban Migrants.” Culture, Health and Sexuality 6/5: 425-437.


Week Thirteen, November 16th

No class: Conference of the “African Studies Association” in Washington



Ethical, Political and Theoretical Challenges in the Fight against AIDS


Week Fourteen, November 23rd

Susan Reynolds Whyte, Michael A. Whyte, Lotte Meinert, und Betty Kyaddondo. 2004. “Treating AIDS: Dilemmas of Unequal Access in Uganda.” Journal of Social Aspects of HIV/AIDS Research Alliance 1 (1): 14-26.

Carolyn Baylies. 2004. “Community-Based Research on AIDS in the Context of Global Inequalities – Making a Virtue of Necessity?” In: Kalipeni, Ezekiel, Susan Craddock, Joseph R. Oppong, and Jayati Ghosh (eds.), HIV & Aids in Africa. Beyond Epidemiology. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 15-28.

Susan Craddock. 2004. “AIDS and Ethics: Clinical Trials, Pharmaceuticals, and Global Scientific Practice.” In: Kalipeni, Ezekiel, Susan Craddock, Joseph R. Oppong, and Jayati Ghosh (eds.), HIV & Aids in Africa. Beyond Epidemiology. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 240-251.

[Background Reading: Paul Farmer. 1992. “New Disorders, Old Dilemmas: AIDS and Anthropology in Haiti.” In: Herdt, Gilbert and Shirley Lindenbaum (eds.), The Time of AIDS. Social Analysis, Theory and Method. Newbury Park: Sage, 287-318.]


Week Fifteen, November 30th

Catherine Campbell. 2003. Letting Them Die: Why HIV/AIDS Prevention Programmes Fail. Oxford: James Currey.

Suzette Heald. 2003. “An Absence of Anthropology: Critical Reflections on Anthropology and AIDS Policy and Practice in Africa”. In: Ellison, George, Melissa Parker and Catherine Campell (eds.), Learning from HIV and AIDS. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 191–216.


Week Sixteen, December 7th

No class: Conference “Locating the Field. The Ethnography of Medical Research in Africa”, Kilifi / Kenya

Use the time to review your reading notes for the final exam


Week Seventeen, December 14th

Final Exam: 3:00pm-5:00pm


[*] Graduate students registered as ANG 6930 or AFS 6905 should discuss with me about alternatives for this assignment.