Interpreting Sex and AIDS in Africa
This chapter examines Western preconceptions regarding African sexuality that distorted early research on the social context of AIDS in Africa and continue to limit the scope of preventive policies. It examines social science and policy works that constructed a hypersexualized pan-African culture as the main reason for the high prevalence of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, supporting their hypotheses with sweeping generalizations and innuendo based on anecdotal evidence, rather than on useful comparative data on sexual behavior. This chapter offers a critical analysis of the discourse on African “exceptionalism”, excessive reliance on anthropological or ethnographic methodology, and the historical and philosophical origins of treating Africa as a special case that derives from racial science and the eugenics movement.
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