Library Header Image
LSE Theses Online London School of Economics web site

An ethnographical analysis of HIV/AIDS in the Venda region of South Africa: Politics, peer education and music.

McNeill, Fraser George (2007) An ethnographical analysis of HIV/AIDS in the Venda region of South Africa: Politics, peer education and music. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

Download (13MB) | Preview


This thesis explores the dynamics of HIV/AIDS in the Venda region of South Africa through an exploration of post-apartheid traditionalism and the anthropology of knowledge at the juncture of planned AIDS interventions. It argues that current policies of peer education act to reinforce the patriarchal Venda aetiology through which men and older women explain sexually transmitted infections in terms of blood related taboos and the build up of pollution. This has resulted in a situation where many Venda men are more concerned with who they sleep with, rather than how "safe" the encounter may be, and has reinforced or even given rise to widely held idea that condoms cause AIDS. By looking at AIDS education through the political economy of traditional leadership in the region, the thesis locates concepts of AIDS, musical performance, power, generational authority, death and secrecy in the context of a post-apartheid struggle for the consolidation of political power between the royal houses of Mphephu and Tshivhase. This has exacerbated historical tensions between the rival centres of power, and encouraged the implementation of policies through which the ANC doctrine of African renaissance has taken centre stage. It argues that, in this context, official attempts to increase the frequency of female initiation schools have bolstered the generational authority of older women and increased the extent to which HIV/AIDS is understood through the "folk model" of blood taboos and pollution. Although peer education creates a space in which younger women - mostly through the singing of songs - promote biomedical notions of sexual health and healing, this space should not be conceptualised simply as a site of "resistance" against these structural forms of authority. It also provides them with a basis for securing positions of employment in health-related government programmes, and as such acts as a potential vehicle for upward mobility among the rural poor. Their desire to change the social/sexual health environment is thus matched by their desire to transcend and move away from it, given that it constructs them as vectors of the virus.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Anthropology, Cultural, South African Studies
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
Departments > Anthropology

Actions (login required)

Record administration - authorised staff only Record administration - authorised staff only


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics