Accepted Paper:

AIDS sells: competition and power articulation in the field of HIV/AIDS in Mali  


Noemi Steuer (University of Basel, Switzerland)

Paper short abstract:

The influx of international funds to fight AIDS in Mali created a situation of harsh claiming practices between diverse civil society actors. Drawing on Bourdieus concept of social fields and based on an exemplary case the presentation analyses different methods of local governance and power articulation.

Paper long abstract:

With beginning of 2004 enormous amounts of international funds, mainly from the primary donor Global Fund, were spent to fight HIV/AIDS in Mali. Since the sums of foreign aid were regularly communicated through the media, they did not only create a strong link between the disease and money in the local perceptions, but they also generate an incentive for all kind of civil society actors to claim a share in this domain. Everywhere in the country, but especially in Bamako, newly funded associations sprang up competing with already established ones for the available resources. Those organizations which could incorporate people living with HIV/AIDS had the best chances for grants. To wide extent AIDS gained the reputation of a very lucrative and flourishing market: "It feeds more people than it kills", was a common saying in Bamako.

During a long-term ethnographic field research (2003-2010), I could observe the high dynamics characterizing the rapidly expanding AIDS sector. Drawing on Bourdieus concept of social fields where diverse actors struggle for their interests, my presentation will elaborate and analyse different but intertwined media-staged conflicts between one of the principal beneficiary of the Global Fund and two rivalling associations of HIV-positive people. The results deliver revealing insights in local modes of governance and power articulation. Moreover, the exemplary case points to political practices which fuelled the recent military coup in Mali and led finally to the present-day crisis.

Panel P013
Governing AIDS through aid to civil society: power, responsibilization and resistance