Love in the Time of AIDS

Love in the Time of AIDS

Inequality, Gender, and Rights in South Africa
Mark Hunter
Distribution: Global except South Africa
Publication date: 10/25/2010
Format: Hardback 12 b&w illus., 2 maps
ISBN: 978-0-253-35533-1
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Winner, 2010 C. Wright Mills Award, SSSPWinner, Amaury Talbot Prize for African Anthropology

In some parts of South Africa, more than one in three people are HIV positive. Love in the Time of AIDS explores transformations in notions of gender and intimacy to try to understand the roots of this virulent epidemic. By living in an informal settlement and collecting love letters, cell phone text messages, oral histories, and archival materials, Mark Hunter details the everyday social inequalities that have resulted in untimely deaths. Hunter shows how first apartheid and then chronic unemployment have become entangled with ideas about femininity, masculinity, love, and sex and have created an economy of exchange that perpetuates the transmission of HIV/AIDS. This sobering ethnography challenges conventional understandings of HIV/AIDS in South Africa.

Author Bio

Mark Hunter is Assistant Professor in Social Sciences/Geography at the University of Toronto Scarborough and Research Associate in the School of Development Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal.


“One of the most exceptional studies of the response to HIV and AIDS.”
 — Richard Parker, Columbia University

“Beautifully, powerfully, and movingly written. The best analysis I have seen not only of the reasons for the HIV/AIDS pandemic in southern Africa, but of its wider socioeconomic, cultural, and political dynamics.”
 — Shula Marks, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

“This sobering ethnography explores transformations in notions of gender and intimacy to try to understand the roots of a virulent epidemic.”

“Hunter writes skilfully, building on important topics to explain the many layers of influence on the everyday worlds of people affected by HIV/AIDS. This powerful and complex book would appeal to anthropologists interested in historical ethnographies or HIV/AIDS and also to those in public health with an interest in understanding sexual behaviours that can contribute to HIV/AIDS.”

“Love in the Time of AIDS is an exceptional book. . . . [It] challenges dominant assumptions about the spread of AIDS and foregrounds the real everyday lives of people in contexts of deep poverty and violence. . . . This book is a must read for all those who recognise AIDS beyond epidemiology. ”
 — Global Public Health

“Hunter avoids economism through demonstrating the real emotions of love and intimacy among women and men linked in a devastating HIV epidemic. His study is a 21st century classic. ”

“The book is rich in ethnographic detail, especially life stories, and very convincing in its analysis. ”

“Mark Hunter's work is an important contribution to the historical and anthropological literature on the South African HIV/AIDS epidemic and should be considered required reading for scholars and graduate students interested in the social, cultural, and economic dynamics of post-apartheid South Africa. ”
 — Journal of African History

“This is a sobering and complex book, and the powerful ethnographic excavation of the multiple factors transforming everyday intimacy in contemporary South Africa is a testament to Hunter’s skills as a researcher and author.”
 — Gender, Place & Culture

“Mark Hunter’s Love in the Time of AIDS is one of the most important books on AIDS in Africa that has been published so far. . . . Among its many virtues, Mark Hunter’s book does well in reminding us that, though often difficult, even in the hardest conditions love is possible.”
 — African Studies Review

“Many books continue to be written on the phenomenon of AIDS. Most of these limit themselves to particular facets of this multifaceted disease. Love in the time of AIDS attempts, and achieves, a remarkable comprehensiveness. ”
 — English Academy Review

“C]ontribute[s] a stirring history of the present of South Africa, and of the unequal world of which it has been and remains a materially and ideologically formative part.”
 — South African Historical Journal

“Hunter’s book deserves the widest possible audience—for its superb methodology and handling of its sources and materials as much as for its powerful and moving account of one of the worst public health disasters of modern times.”
 — Progress in Development Studies

“Love in the Time of AIDS shows that detailed ethnographic works are no longer the preserve of anthropologists. The monograph is written in an accessible style, makes excellent use of case material, and shows the importance of taking local isiZulu concepts seriously.”
 — Transformation

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Table of Contents

A Note on Racial Terms
List of Acronyms

1. Gender and AIDS in an Unequal World
2. Mandeni: "The AIDS Capital of KwaZulu-Natal"

Part 1. Revisiting Intimacy and Apartheid
3. Providing Love: Male Migration and Building a Rural Home
4. Urban Respectability: Sundumbili Township, 1964<N>94
5. Shacks in the Cracks of Apartheid: Industrial Women and the Changing Political Economy and Geography of Intimacy

Part 2. Intimacy after Democracy, 1994<N>
6. Postcolonial Geographies: Being "Left Behind" in the New South Africa
7. Independent Women: Rights amid Wrongs, and Men's Broken Promises
8. Failing Men: Modern Masculinities amid Unemployment
9. All You Need Is Love? The Materiality of Everyday Sex and Love

Part 3. Interventions
10. The Politics of Gender, Intimacy, and AIDS