Violence and Reclamation: Understanding HIV in Tanzania
Dawson, Symantha Nicole
University of Kansas
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This paper focuses on the dialogue between HIV, various forms of violence, and acts of reclamation based on ethnographic experience in Mufindi, Tanzania. Ethnographic examples in this paper are the product of ethnographic research methods, such as informal interviews, focus groups, and textual analysis. Symbolic violence produces a problematic understanding of African health, that then becomes internalized, and inhibits strategies to combat HIV in Tanzania. Structural violence is enacted through economic policies that drive poverty and impact quality of/accessibility to healthcare and treatments. Environmental degradation and pollutants sustained by structural policies that affect quality of life and well-being are examples of slow violence. Everyday violence in Mufindi appears in the shape of funerals and generational death. However, complicating how grief is understood in these contexts challenges the typical medicalization of emotions like grief showing how the western biomedical gaze dominates conversations about African health, and therefore impact what gets treatment. Analyzing the discourse around HIV, paired with ethnographic data, revealed other illnesses affecting the Mufindi population, that have been ignored in health scholarship. Acknowledging these other health issues contributes to a more dimensional understanding of African health and furthers understanding of everyday aspects of these diseases. This gives the potential for future studies to explore chronic illness in Africa, contributing to nuanced understanding of the illness experience.
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