Aids and Religious Practice in Africa


This volume explores how AIDS is understood, confronted and lived with through religious ideas and practices, and how these, in turn, are reinterpreted and changed by the experience of AIDS. Examining the social production, and productivity, of AIDS - linking bodily and spiritual experiences, and religious, medical, political and economic discourses - the papers counter simplified notions of causal effects of AIDS on religion (or vice versa). Instead, they display people’s resourcefulness in their struggle to move ahead in spite of adversity. This relativises the vision of doom widely associated with the African AIDS epidemic; and it allows to see AIDS, instead of a singular event, as the culmination of a century-long process of changing livelihoods, bodily well-being and spiritual imaginaries.
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Biographical Note

Felicitas Becker (PhD, Cambridge) is Assistant Professor of African History at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver. She has written 'Becoming Muslim in Mainland Tanzania, 1890-2000' (OUP, 2008), and articles in the Journal of African History, Journal of Global History and African Affairs a.o. Currently, she is researching the history of writing in the Swahili and Portuguese languages in Africa, and the role of audiotapes among Islamists in East Africa.
Wenzel Geissler is a social anthropologist at the London School of Hygiene and the Institute of Social Anthropology in Oslo. He has published on health and body in Africa and on kinship, memory and change in Kenya. Presently he conducts ethnographic fieldwork on medical research in Kenya, and works with the London-based Research Group for the Anthropology of African Biosciences. With Ruth Prince he wrote The land is dying - contingency, creativity and conflict in western Kenya, (Berghahn).

Review Quotes

"Primarily anthropological in epistemology and ethnographic in methodology, the collection addresses a long-standing gap and reflects the rising interest in religion and HIV/AIDS."
Robin Root, City University of New York, Journal of Religion in Africa, Vol. 41

"The essays in this volume demonstrate again that in contexts where state response has been anything but bold and aggressive, religious communities have responded to AIDS in light of their religious commitments. The strength of this book lies in the emphasis on gender issues and female sexuality."
Elias Bongmba, Rice University, Religious Studies Review, Vol. 37, No.1


Those interested in the course of the AIDS epidemic, AIDS prevention, education and control; students of religious anthropology and history and of public health in Africa.

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