AIDS Doesn't Show Its Face: Inequality, Morality, and Social Change in Nigeria

University of Chicago Press
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AIDS and Africa are indelibly linked in popular consciousness, but despite widespread awareness of the epidemic, much of the story remains hidden beneath a superficial focus on condoms, sex workers, and antiretrovirals. Africa gets lost in this equation, Daniel Jordan Smith argues, transformed into a mere vehicle to explain AIDS, and in AIDS Doesn’t Show Its Face, he offers a powerful reversal, using AIDS as a lens through which to view Africa.

Drawing on twenty years of fieldwork in Nigeria, Smith tells a story of dramatic social changes, ones implicated in the same inequalities that also factor into local perceptions about AIDS—inequalities of gender, generation, and social class. Nigerians, he shows, view both social inequality and the presence of AIDS in moral terms, as kinds of ethical failure. Mixing ethnographies that describe everyday life with pointed analyses of public health interventions, he demonstrates just how powerful these paired anxieties—medical and social—are, and how the world might better alleviate them through a more sensitive understanding of their relationship.
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About the author

Daniel Jordan Smith is associate professor in the anthropology department at Brown University. He is the author of A Culture of Corruption: Everyday Deception and Popular Discontent in Nigeria and coauthor of The Secret: Love, Marriage, and HIV.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Mar 28, 2014
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Pages
208
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ISBN
9780226108971
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Africa / Central
Social Science / Anthropology / Cultural & Social
Social Science / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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E-mails proposing an "urgent business relationship" help make fraud Nigeria's largest source of foreign revenue after oil. But scams are also a central part of Nigeria's domestic cultural landscape. Corruption is so widespread in Nigeria that its citizens call it simply "the Nigerian factor." Willing or unwilling participants in corruption at every turn, Nigerians are deeply ambivalent about it--resigning themselves to it, justifying it, or complaining about it. They are painfully aware of the damage corruption does to their country and see themselves as their own worst enemies, but they have been unable to stop it. A Culture of Corruption is a profound and sympathetic attempt to understand the dilemmas average Nigerians face every day as they try to get ahead--or just survive--in a society riddled with corruption.

Drawing on firsthand experience, Daniel Jordan Smith paints a vivid portrait of Nigerian corruption--of nationwide fuel shortages in Africa's oil-producing giant, Internet cafés where the young launch their e-mail scams, checkpoints where drivers must bribe police, bogus organizations that siphon development aid, and houses painted with the fraud-preventive words "not for sale." This is a country where "419"--the number of an antifraud statute--has become an inescapable part of the culture, and so universal as a metaphor for deception that even a betrayed lover can say, "He played me 419." It is impossible to comprehend Nigeria today--from vigilantism and resurgent ethnic nationalism to rising Pentecostalism and accusations of witchcraft and cannibalism--without understanding the role played by corruption and popular reactions to it.

Some images inside the book are unavailable due to digital copyright restrictions.

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