Debt, sex and AIDS : dismantling the AIDS-in-Africa discourse
Since early after its discovery in 1981, AIDS has often been framed as a sexual disease spread through deviant and hypersexualized populations, perhaps nowhere more so than in Africa. Much has been written about the pandemic in Africa, with the majority of recent attention placed on the sexual transmission of the virus. Omitted from the discourse are other possible avenues of transmission. My thesis hopes to highlight this problem by identifying key works contributing to the sexual discourse, and drawing attention to other possible areas of research which could broaden the scope of research on AIDS in Africa. In this thesis, Edward Said’s idea of Orientalism is used as a framework through which to understand the creation of the sexual discourse, arguing that it has become dominant and therefore obstructing alternate avenues of scholarship and investigation. Due to this focus on promiscuity and sex, the literature on the transmission through medical injections was omitted. The focus on sexual transmission as the basis of the pandemic has excluded much discussion on other contributing factors, such as poverty. Arguments for the role of poverty in HIV transmission often centre on sex. For example, women forced into transactional sexual relations or sex work, or movements to urbanization that weaken cultural mores and norms and result in promiscuous sexual relations. The emphasis on the sexual transmission of AIDS in Africa, at the expense of thorough analysis of the non-sexual transmission, has stunted the understanding AIDS, placing blame for the transmission onto Africans themselves, turning AIDS into an ‘African problem’.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
SupervisorHorwitz, Simonne; Handy, Jim
CommitteeDowne, Pamela; Smith-Norris, Martha
Copyright DateApril 2011