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Religion and AIDS Treatment in Africa: Saving Souls, Prolonging Lives

Religion and AIDS Treatment in Africa:
Saving Souls, Prolonging Lives
Edited by Rijk van Dijk, Hansjörg Dilger, Marian Burchardt and Thera Rasing

Ashgate September 2014

This book critically interrogates emerging intertconnections between religion and biomedicine in Africa in the era of antiretroviral treatment for AIDS. Highlighting the complex relationships between religious ideologies, practices and organizations on the one hand, and biomedical treatment programmes and the scientific languages and public health institutions that sustain them on the other, this anthology charts largely uncovered terrain in the social science study of the Aids epidemic.

Spanning different regions of Africa, the authors offer unique access to issues at the interface of religion and medical humanitarianism and the manifold therapeutic traditions, religious practices and moralities as they co-evolve in situations of AIDS treatment. This book also sheds new light on how religious spaces are formed in response to the dilemmas people face with the introduction of life-prolonging treatment programmes.

Contents: Introduction: religion and AIDS-treatment in Africa: the redemptive moment, Hansjörg Dilger, Marian Burchardt and Rijk van Dijk.
Part I Agency, Subjectivity, and Authority: Fashioning selves and fashioning styles: negotiating the personal and the rhetorical in the experiences of African recipients of ARV treatment, Felicitas Becker; The logic of therapeutic habitus: culture, religion and biomedical AIDS treatments in South Africa, Marian Burchardt; ‘A blessing in disguise’:
the art of surviving HIV/AIDS as a member of the Zionist Christian Church in South Africa, Bjarke Oxlund; ‘God has again remembered us!’:
Christian identity and men’s attitudes to antiretroviral therapy in Zambia, Anthony Simpson. Part II Contesting Therapeutic Domains and
Practices: Prophetic medicine, antiretrovirals, and the therapeutic economy of HIV in northern Nigeria, Jack Ume Tocco; ‘Silent nights, anointing days’: post-HIV test religious experiences in Ghana, Benjamin Kobina Kwansa; The blood of Jesus and CD4 counts: dreaming, developing and navigating therapeutic options for curing HIV/AIDS in Tanzania, Dominik Mattes. Part III Emergent Organizational Forms in Times of ART: Societal dynamics, state relations, and international connections:
influences on Ghanaian and Zambian church mobilization in AIDS treatment, Amy S. Patterson; The role of religious institutions in the district-level governance of anti-retroviral treatment in western Uganda, A.M.J. Leusenkamp; Negotiating holistic care with the ‘rules’ of ARV treatment in a Catholic community-based organization in Kampala, Louise Mubanda Rasmussen; Notions of efficacy around a Chinese medicinal
plant: Artemesia annua – an innovative AIDS therapy in Tanzania, Caroline Meier zu Biesen; Index.

About the Editor: Rijk van Dijk is an anthropologist working at the African Studies Centre, Leiden and a professor in the study of religion and sexuality in Africa at the University of Amsterdam. He is an expert on Pentecostalism, globalization & transnationalism, migration, youth, and healing. He has done extensive research and published on the rise of Pentecostal movements in urban areas of Malawi, Ghana and Botswana. He is the author of Young Malawian Puritans (Utrecht, ISOR Press, 1993) and has co-edited 7 books. With Ria Reis and Marja Spierenburg he co-edited The Quest for Fruition through Ngoma (Oxford, James Currey 2000) and with Wim van Binsbergen Situating Globality. African Agency in the Appropriation of Global Culture (Leiden, Brill 2004). His current research deals with the religious, in particular Pentecostal, engagements with the domains of sexuality and HIV/AIDS in Botswana. Recently published articles entitled ‘Gloves in times of AIDS:
Pentecostalism, Hair and Social Distancing in Botswana’ (In: F. Becker ; P.W. Geissler (eds) Aids and Religious Practice in Africa, Leiden /
Boston: Brill, Studies on Religion in Africa, 2009) and ‘Marriage, commodification and the romantic ethic in Botswana.’ (In: Marleen Dekker & Rijk van Dijk (eds) Markets of Well-being. Navigating Health and Healing in Africa, Leiden: Brill, African Dynamics Series No. 9, 2010) are dealing with insights gained from this ongoing research. He is also the chair of the International Research Network on religion and Aids in Africa. In addition, he is the Editor-in-chief of the newly established journal African Diaspora. A Journal of Transnational Africa in a Global World which is published by Brill, Leiden, as of 2008.

Hansjörg Dilger is a Professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the Freie Universität Berlin. He has conducted long-term fieldwork on HIV/AIDS and social relations in Tanzania, focusing on the dynamics of kinship and Neo-Pentecostalism in the context of rural-urban migration, as well as on the identity politics and the limitations of collective action in urban NGOs. Dilger is author of the book Living with Aids:
Illness, Death and Social Relationships in Africa (Frankfurt 2005; in German). He is also co-editor of the volume Morality, Hope and Grief:
Anthropologies of AIDS in Africa (Oxford 2010; with Ute Luig). His articles were published in Anthropological Quarterly, African Journal of Aids Research, Journal of Religion in Africa, Medical Anthropology and Africa Today. Dilger’s current book project is about Christian and Muslim Schools in Dar es Salaam. He is a member of the steering committee of the Research Network Religion and AIDS in Africa.

Marian Burchardt is a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity. His PhD, which he received from the University of Leipzig’s Cultural Studies Department, explores the entanglements of religion, biomedicine and sexuality in South Africa’s fight against HIV/AIDS from a transnational perspective. His research interests include the sociology and anthropology of religion, modern social thought, medical anthropology, the sociology of the body, transnationalism and globalization. His articles appeared, among others, in Oxford Development Studies and Culture, Health and Sexuality. One of his recent publications is ‘Subjects of Counselling: Religion, HIV/AIDS and the Management of Everyday Life in South Africa’, in AIDS and Religious Practices in Africa, edited by Becker and Geissler.

Thera Rasing (PhD. 2001, Erasmus University Rotterdam) studied Anthropology (specialised in Religious Anthropology) and Women and Development, both at the Free University, Amsterdam. Since 1992 she has conducted extensive research on female initiation rites and wedding ceremonies, gender relations, sexuality, traditional and Christian religion, urbanization, globalisation and HIV/AIDS in Zambia. From 1995 to 2001 she was affiliated to the African Studies Centre, Leiden, The Netherlands. She worked as Lecturer at the University of Amsterdam and as Senior Lecturer at the Catholic University Malawi, both at the Department of Anthropology. From 2005 to 2011 she was Senior Lecturer at the Gender Studies Department at the University of Zambia, and was the Head of the Gender Studies Department for two years. She is currently working as researcher at the Ministry of Community Development Mother and Child Health in Zambia. Her main publications are: The Bush Burnt, the Stones Remain: Female initiation rites in urban Zambia (2001) and The persistence of female initiation rites: Reflexivity and resilience of women in Zambia (2004).

Reviews: ‘In the early days of the HIV epidemic on the African continent, anthropologists studied how religion provided healing and care to AIDS patients in the quasi-absence of medical treatment. As antiretroviral drugs become increasingly available and biomedicine reclaims its therapeutic role, the authors of this remarkable series of ethnographical investigations reverse the perspective and ask a fascinating question: what does this massive and effective treatment do to religion, and how does prolonging the lives affect the religious imagination?’
Didier Fassin, Institute for Advanced Study, USA and author of Humanitarian Reason. A Moral History of the Present _______________________________________________