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Accepted Paper:

'Contraceptives are killing us through the women': Interrogating difference in local constructions of the AIDS pandemic in South Africa  
Vendula Řezáčová

Paper short abstract:

The paper will examine the ways in which notions of ´female pollution´ as a source of ´male illness´, and the social relations in which these have been embedded, are being transformed in attempts to articulate a local perception of the AIDS pandemic in a rural region in South Africa.

Paper long abstract:

Several recent studies focussing on southern African societies, including my own conducted in former Venda, South Africa, have identified an ethnomedical model of HIV/AIDS sexual transmission which has constructed women who have used contraceptives and/or undergone abortion as ´givers´ of disease to men as ´recipients´. In this paper I will interrogate this model as to the ways in which it has mobilized constructs of difference - of male/female and ´traditional healing´/biomedicine - to articulate and act upon anxieties over transformations of gendered authority structures and cultural identity in the post-apartheid, neo-liberal context. One of the suggestions of this paper is that local perceptions of ´AIDS prevention´ following from the model and centring on controlling women's engagement with biomedical technologies, have provided an arena in which contestations over women's increasing autonomy and (re)productions of a ´Venda medical tradition´ have taken place in the same language of embodied signs and disease aetiologies.

Panel IW006
Medical knowledge, health, crises, and processes of diversification
  Session 1