Abstract: In this article, the author explores the role of religion in social constructions of heterosexual masculinity in South Africa in the context of civil society driven programs to fight sexual and gender-based violence and the spread of HIV. Critically engaging with the concept of hegemonic masculinity and the sociological literature on gender relations in conservative Christian communities, the author examines how Charismatic Christian and Pentecostal communities in the townships of Cape Town negotiate their model of masculinity and gender authority in the context of the prevailing hegemonies of ‘traditional’ and ‘liberal’ masculinity. Based on ethnographic observations and qualitative interviews with Pentecostal men, the author specifies the concrete mechanisms whereby Pentecostalism both contributes to transform but also to reproduce rather than undermine hegemonic masculinity. He finds that Pentecostalism responsibilizes men not because men adopt its sexual ideology but because they adopt its model of personhood.
By: Anna Eisenstein (University of Virginia)
Lydia Boyd’s Preaching Prevention charts two moments in Uganda’s recent history: the roll-out of the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Asking what these two cases have in common, Boyd explores Ugandan born again Christians’ engagement with discourses on sexuality and health in the midst of rapid urbanization, neoliberal global health policies, and the international sexual rights movement. In classic anthropological fashion, she finds that “indigenous moral logics” animate and valorize specific sexual practices in this particular historical and cultural context. Far from a unidirectional “export” of American approaches to care and treatment, Ugandan born-again Christians re-oriented and re-purposed US-directed messages about sexuality and personal agency in light of longstanding, locally relevant models of hierarchal interdependence. By documenting the distinctive motivations of Ugandan Christians, the book forms an important corrective to assumptions that Ugandan Christian attitudes and activisms merely parrot American Christianity, or that the beliefs and interests of American and Ugandan Christians are interchangeable.
Publisher’s Description: Preaching Prevention examines the controversial U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) initiative to “abstain and be faithful” as a primary prevention strategy in Africa. This ethnography of the born-again Christians who led the new anti-AIDS push in Uganda provides insight into both what it means for foreign governments to “export” approaches to care and treatment and the ways communities respond to and repurpose such projects. By examining born-again Christians’ support of Uganda’s controversial 2009 Anti-Homosexuality Bill, the book’s final chapter explores the enduring tensions surrounding the message of personal accountability heralded by U.S. policy makers.
Preaching Prevention is the first to examine the cultural reception of PEPFAR in Africa. Lydia Boyd asks, What are the consequences when individual responsibility and autonomy are valorized in public health initiatives and those values are at odds with the existing cultural context? Her book investigates the cultures of the U.S. and Ugandan evangelical communities and how the flow of U.S.-directed monies influenced Ugandan discourses about sexuality and personal agency. It is a pioneering examination of a global health policy whose legacies are still unfolding.
Publisher’s Description: 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.
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
Burchardt, Marian. 2014. AIDS Activism in the Age of ARV Treatment in South Africa: Christianity, Resource Mobilisation and the Meanings of Engagement. Journal of Southern African Studies 40(1): 59-74.
Abstract: This article explores the dynamics of Christian AIDS activism in South Africa. Using social movement theory’s approaches to resource mobilisation, I ask how the availability of different kinds of resources affects organisation and outcomes. Focusing on several Christian activist groups in Cape Town, and on the cultural logics whereby activist networks are extended into rural areas, I argue that resource mobilisation takes on different configurations and rationalities when conjugated with the prevailing system of relationships of patronage and dependency between activist groups and donors. By illustrating the way in which AIDS activism has spilled over into the religious domain in South Africa, I also highlight how, in the process, this activism and the projects it initiated have reshaped Christianity as a public religion.
Abstract: Through an examination of amafunde – a Bemba word meaning ‘instruction’, which refers to the training given to a young woman before her marriage – this article explores the social changes that have followed widespread HIV infection on the Zambian Copperbelt. Amafunde today are marked by openness between senior women and those they train for marriage, an openness that they encourage their charges to adopt in married life. This emphasis on direct or ‘straight’ speech stands in stark contrast to earlier accounts of female initiation in Zambia, which highlight ‘obscure’ modes of communication. An analysis of this change reveals the increased importance of both secrecy and disclosure in Zambia’s time of AIDS, as well as the influence of Pentecostal Christianity. Most importantly, it indexes changes in the social forms that the interplay of secrecy and disclosure has traditionally produced.
Bochow, Astrid and Rijk van Dijk. 2012. “Christian Creations of New Spaces of Sexuality, Reproduction, and Relationships in Africa: Exploring Faith and Religious Heterotopia.” Journal of Religion in Africa 42(4):325-344.
Abstract: In many African societies today Christian churches, Pentecostals in particular, are an important source of information on sexuality, relationships, the body, and health, motivated in part by the HIV/AIDS pandemic but also related to globally circulating ideas and images that make people rethink gender relations and identities through the lens of ‘romantic love’. Contextualizing the contemporary situation in the history of Christian movements in Africa, and by applying Foucault’s notion of heterotopia, this introduction and the subsequent papers show that Christian doctrines and practices are creating social spaces of altering relational ethics, identities and gender roles that appeal especially to upwardly mobile women.
Abstract: The born-again discourse is a central characteristic of Pentecostal Christianity in Africa. In the study of African Christianities, this discourse and the way it (re)shapes people’s moral, religious, and social identities has received much attention. However, hardly any attention has been paid to its effects on men as gendered beings. In the study of men and masculinities in Africa, on the other hand, neither religion in general nor born-again Christianity in particular are taken into account as relevant factors in the construction of masculinities. On the basis of a detailed analysis of interviews with men who are members of a Pentecostal church in Lusaka, Zambia, this article investigates how men’s gender identities are reshaped by becoming and being born-again and how born-again conversion produces new forms of masculinity. The observed Pentecostal transformation of masculinity is interpreted in relation to men’s social vulnerability, particularly in the context of the HIV epidemic in Zambia.
Rios, Luis Felipe, Francisca Luciana de Aquino, Miguel Muñoz-Laboy, Laura R. Murray, Cinthia Oliveira, & Richard G. Parker (2011) “The Catholic Church, moral doctrine, and HIV prevention in Recife, Brazil: Negotiating the contradictions between religious belief and the realities of everyday life” Culture and Religion 12(4):355-372.
Abstract: Religious beliefs have had a key role in shaping local responses to HIV and AIDS. As the world’s largest Catholic country, Brazil is no exception. Yet little research has been conducted to document how religious doctrine is enacted in practice among its lay leaders and followers. In this article, we present ethnographic research from Recife, Brazil, conducted to understand the way in which religious doctrines are interpreted at a local level. Contextualised within the sociology of contemporary Brazilian Catholicism, we draw on interviews with clergy members, lay leaders, and parishioners to discuss how the Catholic Church’s vision of sexuality translates into everyday lives of its followers. We explore the disjuncture between the Catholic ideals of fidelity and delaying sex until marriage with the everyday reality of the Church’s followers, highlighting the role that gender plays in defining sexual roles and expectations. We conclude by posing questions for future research and HIV prevention strategies considering the formal institutional response of the Brazilian Catholic Church to AIDS on the one hand, and the social and cultural contexts in which Catholics live their daily lives on the other.