This paper is a feminist reading of HIV activism in South Africa, of a social movement that does not describe itself as a women’s movement: it advocates both women’s and men’s, trans, hetero- and homosexual peoples’ rights for adequate health care and antiretroviral medication. Like many others, Chandra Talpade Mohanty suggests that today’s powerful feminism is found in anti-globalization movements that do not necessarily call themselves feminist. These critiques maintain that the theory, critique and activism of grass-root women across the globe, for example around anti-globalization, should also inform academic feminist discussions. This article studies discourses on HIV in Africa by contrasting the politics of the Treatment Action Campaign, a South African activist movement, with social science research literature on HIV in Africa. The contextual and political dimension of the illness is a central feature in activist discourses, a feature that can be described as inherently feminist. The representations of HIV/AIDS in Africa and the policies these imply are strikingly different in the activist and academic discourses. We argue that activists’ political orientation and the consequent anti-individualism are key dividing features that lead the activist and research discourses down divergent paths. In contrast, HIV research inhabits a de-politicized and individualizing tendency.
Jungar, Katarina and Oinas, Elina
A Feminist Struggle? South African HIV Activism as Feminist Politics.
Journal of International Women's Studies, 11(4), 177-191.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol11/iss4/13