Anatomy of the Controversies

Didier Fassin

in When Bodies Remember

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2007 | ISBN: 9780520244672
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520940451 | DOI:
Anatomy of the Controversies

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  • Medical Anthropology


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Several commentators on the South African controversies over AIDS have realized that the intellectual landscape of the AIDS epidemic has been reduced to simple terms. The terms cover medicine and science, people of goodwill and good sense, efficacy and truth, on one side and on the other, a president and a few dissidents, corrupt politicians and quack scientists, incompetence and error. Two facts make the controversy surrounding AIDS in South Africa different from those usually studied by sociologists of science. First, though bearing mainly on scientific matters, the polemics run in all directions to the extent that beyond academia where scientific polemics usually take place, all of society has been drawn in, albeit to varying degrees and in different ways. Second, though they concern knowledge and its modes of production and validation, the controversy triggers immediate action. The controversies over AIDS can also be said to be political because they bear on the government of human beings.

Keywords: AIDS; scientific matters; public health; vertical infection; nevirapine

Chapter.  20051 words. 

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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