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AIDS, Politics, and Music in South Africa

Part of The International African Library

  • Date Published: September 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107417564

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  • This book offers an original anthropological approach to the AIDS epidemic in South Africa, demonstrating why AIDS interventions in the former homeland of Venda have failed - and possibly even been counterproductive. It does so through a series of ethnographic encounters, from kings to condoms, which expose the ways in which biomedical understanding of the virus have been rejected by - and incorporated into - local understandings of health, illness, sex and death. Through the songs of female initiation, AIDS education and wandering minstrels, the book argues that music is central to understanding how AIDS interventions operate. This book elucidates a hidden world of meaning in which people sing about what they cannot talk about, where educators are blamed for spreading the virus, and in which condoms are often thought to cause AIDS. The policy implications are clear: African worldviews must be taken seriously if AIDS interventions in Africa are to become successful.

    • This book accompanies a website on which readers can listen to the songs that are being analyzed
    • Includes rich ethnographic detail, reflecting the 15 year association the author has with the region, and his fluency in the local language, Tshivenda
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'McNeill shows wonderfully well how music works in everyday contexts not only to demarcate the identities of particular social groups, but also how musicians and everyday singers - and even AIDS-awareness educators - transform musical genres to suit a multitude of purposes that, ultimately, drive social and cultural change.' Adam Ashforth, Africa: Journal of the International African Institute

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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2014
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107417564
    • length: 308 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.46kg
    • contains: 18 b/w illus. 4 maps 2 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: AIDS, politics and music
    2. The battle for Venda kingship
    3. A rite to AIDS education? Venda girls' initiation and HIV prevention
    4. 'We want a job in the government': motivation and mobility in AIDS peer education
    5. 'We sing about what we cannot talk about': biomedical AIDS knowledge in stanza
    6. Guitar songs and 'sexy women': a folk cosmology of AIDS
    7. 'Condoms cause AIDS': poison, prevention, and degrees of separation
    8. Conclusion.

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    AIDS, Politics, and Music in South Africa

    Fraser G. McNeill

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  • Author

    Fraser G. McNeill, University of Pretoria
    Dr Fraser G. McNeill is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. He was awarded a Ph.D. from the Department of Anthropology at the London School of Economics in 2007 and received the Audrey Richards Prize from the African Studies Association in 2008 for his thesis. He is a co-author of the 2009 AIDS Review for the Centre for the Study of AIDS at the University of Pretoria and has published articles in African Affairs and South African Music Studies, as well as chapters in several edited volumes.

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