The Imprint of the Past

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:
The Imprint of the Past

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The studies carried out on AIDS in South Africa generally testify to a remarkable presentism. The controversies surrounding AIDS create a privileged framework for the expression and recognition of the violence and injustice. The AIDS epidemic, through its powerfully elusive epidemiological reality and through the verbal inflation surrounding it, represents the overflow that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was unable to channel. Contagious diseases in many African cities have led to attempts to set up policies of spatial segregation to protect the European population. The history of epidemics is an integral part of the history of racial segregation in South Africa. The risk of contagion has often been the most effective argument to justify the implementation of legal and physical measures initiating or reinforcing the separation of groups that it would have been more difficult politically to justify by strictly biological criteria. Segregationist policies in public health offer the advantage of being a neutral and technical excuse that can even be presented as beneficial for everybody.

Keywords: Truth and Reconciliation Commission; AIDS epidemic; contagious diseases; segregationist policies; infant mortality

Chapter.  23121 words. 

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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