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Publication: HIV & AIDS IN AFRICA

20160914 132320 1 1Jacquineau Azetsop, SJ, ed.HIV and AIDS in Africa: Christian Reflection, Public Health, Social Transformation. New York: NY, Orbis Books, 2016.

ISBN 978-1-62698-200-0 paperback 448pp.

Why a new book on HIV and AIDS?

In HIV and AIDS in Africa, the contributors address the myriad socio-political and spiritual questions raised by the 30 year long pandemic. This volume, a critical and comprehensive look by African scholars at the HIV and AIDS pandemic in Africa, features contributions from noted scholars from across the continent, offering analysis from theological, sociological, ecclesiological, and public health perspectives. It is a valuable resource for social analysis and theological reflection from an African perspective, something badly needed for theologians and academics alike. Several prominent American theologians are also contributors, including Lisa Sowle Cahill, Shawn Copeland and James Keenan.

As editor Jacquineau Azetsop puts it, AIDS is altogether a physical, moral, and metaphysical evil that has challenged medicine and human society. How do Christians in Africa reach out to the infected, and how do their communitiesespecially the Small Christian Communitiesprovide support to those in need? What biblical  and theological foundations can believers draw on in their lives and work, in roles from caregiver to public health administrator?What are public and personal values and practices that ought to be adopted to improve public welfare and avert future  pandemic?How can people worship the God of abundant life and celebrate sacraments in a context wounded by preventable pain and unnecessary suffering ? How should Christian churches train leaders, address conflicts, and design reality-based interventions in times of hardships? While focused on the particulars of their African context, these essays have resonance for theologians, academics, pastoral agents, and health professionals alike.

The Content

The book is composed of seven parts:

  1. The sociohistorical, cultural and political context of the pandemic
  2. Methological and normative concerns of an applied theology on HIV and AIDS
  3. AIDS, healing, and the bible
  4. Foundations of an african theology on HIV and AIDS
  5. AIDS, theological ethics and social changes
  6. Worship, education and conflicts in times of AIDS
  7. Pastoral initiaves

The theoretical shape of the volume

This book is angry book which contends that an epidemic of a greater magnitude is a sociopolitical game changer, for it challenges political inertia, the globally constructed imperceptibility of the suffering of others, cultural immobilism and poor governance. AIDS has indeed questionned the way we live together, how we treat each other, what drive the type social policies we design, what means to be a global community. This book has been written with the intent to perceive the HIV and AIDS epidemic as calling for a moment of truth, truth about the social order, governance, global relationships, disease etiology and knowledge production. At stake here, is the need of taking into account in our etiological model of AIDS, the inscription of social ills in individual bodies. A phenomenological perception of the epidemic places the process of embodiment of socioglobal ills at the very centre of reflections found in this volume. Hence, the authors of this book emphasize the need for a new epistemology of AIDS production and  of assigning responsibility for infection. Knowledge should not be on-sidedly and one-dimensionally produced. Instead, it requires an effort to make explicit the social, cultural, and political conditions under which knowledge of society is produced and sanctioned as a legitimate basis for public debate and policy concern.[2] investigation and research are carried out.

Some positive reactions

Emmanuel Katongolo from Notre Dame University, one of the leading African scholars who has seriously engaged the AIDS pandemic through research and action, puts out a strong word for this book saying: A thoroughgoing theological engagement of HIV and AIDS in Africa has been long overdue. This collection of essays is a must-have and a must-read by every scholar, priest, social worker, pastoral agent, and anyone seeking to understand Africas journey of pain and hope, and the faith that sustains that journey.

Similarly, Mary Getui, the former chairperson of the Kenya National AIDS Control Council, astutely writes: Comprehensive, interdisciplinary, rich, and mind-jostling, this book is a beacon of hope as well as a wakeup call that challenges individuals and institutions within and outside Africa concerning HIV and AIDS on the continent.

In her foreword of the book, Shawn Copeland, an African American women and professor of systematic theology wrote: Read this book. Why? For all their weightiness, the essays in this collection radiate with creative thinking and nergy. The HIV and AIDS crisis may fuel and may be fueled by the social vulnerabilities of Africas people, but it does not deprive them of hopea search for alternative strategies to meet crucial human needs, compassionate and practical solidarity in the face of massive sufferinghundred of books and articles have been written about the HIV and AIDS epidemic; several of these have taken a theological approach. This volume not only builds on prior theological reflection, it drwas on ongoing and new multidisciplinary research in order to enrich and expand on that reflection.She added: The most radical import of these essays is this: there is nousand them; there is only we. We are the body of Christ, we are infected with and affected by the HIV virus and the disease it causes.

 


[1] Iain Wilkinson and Arthur Kleinman, A Passion for  Society : How we think about human suffering, Oakland, University of California Press, 2016, 16.

[1]Ibid., 19.

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