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Aids and the power of God: Narratives of decline and coping strategies in Zanzibar

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Chapter Summary

Discourses on AIDS in Zanzibar are embedded in a cultural logic associated with Islam and shaped by the islands long problematic relationship with the mainland. This chapter analyses how people struggle to translate such discourses into local practice in an effort to make sense of and contain the epidemic, and how AIDS has been used by religious groups in a political discourse opposing government policies that are perceived as having tolerated moral decay and compromised Muslim values and practices in Zanzibar over the past decades. Overall, the judgemental nature of mainstream discourse in Zanzibar is better suited to express concerns about moral, cultural, political, and socio-economic decline than to help victims of HIV/AIDS face their fate.

Keywords: AIDS; Islam; Zanzibar



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