Righteous Dopefiend and Aids, Sex, and Culture: Global Politics and Survival in Southern Africa

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This essay offers a comparative reading of two ethnographies, Ida Susser's AIDS, Sex, and Culture: Global Politics and Survival in Southern Africa (2009), a multisited text focused on community responses to dynamics of HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment in Southern Africa, and Philippe Bourgois and Jeff Schonberg's Righteous Dopefiend (2009), a photo-ethnographic exploration of lumpen subjectivity within an encampment of homeless drug addicts in San Francisco. Pointing out these texts' common focus on circumstances of the precarious and marginal poor under conditions of neoliberalization, social conditions shaping dynamics of HIV prevention, and poor people's negotiations of affliction and structural violence, this essay highlights the theoretical and practical effects of these books' divergent methodologies, scopes of analysis, and differing degrees of emphasis on subjective experience as well as women's experiences. It also considers a key commonality across these texts: their attention to the role of historical experience and political-economic context in shaping responses to affliction and structural violence.



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