Skip to main content

A Plague of Paradoxes

AIDS, Culture, and Demography in Northern Tanzania

Since recording its first AIDS cases in 1983, Tanzania has reported nearly 90,000 more to the World Health Organization—more than any other country in Africa. As AIDS spread, the devastating syndrome came to be known simply as ugonjwa huo: "that disease."

The AIDS epidemic has forced Africans to reflect upon the meaning of traditional ideas and practices related to sexuality and fertility, and upon modernity and biomedicine. In A Plague of Paradoxes, anthropologist Philip Setel observes Tanzania’s Chagga people and their attempts to cope with and understand AIDS—the latest in a series of crises over which they feel they have little, if any, control.

Timely and well-researched, A Plague of Paradoxes is an extended case study of the most serious epidemic of the twentieth century and the cultural circumstances out of which it emerged. It is a unique book that brings together anthropology, demography, and epidemiology to explain how a particular community in Africa experiences AIDS.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface and Acknowledgments
1. "Hey, Listen!"
2. Not a Promised Land: Historical Instabilities in Social Reproduction
3. Population, Men, and Movement: (M)oral Demographies of Desire and Risk
4. Personhood and the Pragmatics of Desire
5. The "Acquired Income Deficiency Syndrome"
6. An Epidemic of Clarity, a Disease of Confusion: Profession and Popular Epidemiologies of AIDS
7. Conclusions without Closure

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press