ANTH 2230 Chapter Notes -Male Prostitution, Seroprevalence, Saint-Domingue
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Paul Farmer-AIDS and Accusation
1. What does Farmer mean by the phrase “the West Atlantic Pandemic”?
•“The West Atlantic System”—an economic network encompassing much of the
Caribbean basin and centered in the US.
•The Caribbean nations with high attack rates of AIDS are all part of the West Atlantic
2. What is the role of tourism?
•Sufficient data now exists to support the assertion that economically driven male
prostitution, catering to a North American clientele, played a major role in the
introduction of HIV to Haiti.
•Studies revealed high seroprevalence among homosexual/bisexual male prostitutes
living in the tourist areas of the country
•Tourists, not Haitians, were the most likely source of the virus transmission to
Dominicans, because contact occurs frequently between tourists and Dominicans but
rarely between Haitians and Dominicans
3. What does Farmer mean when he states that “A relation between the degree of
‘insertion’ in this network and prevalence of AIDS...”?
•The 5 Caribbean nations with the largest number of cases by 1986 were as follows:
the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, Trinidad/Tobago, Mexico and Haiti.
•At the time these countries were most linked to the US economically
•Haiti, the country with the most cases, was also the country most fully dependent on
•Cuba, a neighboring island to Haiti, had a very low percentage of cases in 1986
(0.01% of 1,000,000); they are the sole country in the region not enmeshed in the
West Atlantic System
1. How are we to make sense of the narratives that invoke sorcery accusations as the
cause of sida in Do Kay?
2. How does this logic fit in with a larger cultural system?
•In Do Kay, there are many ways of ensorcelling an enemy
•Sorcery—indigenous term is maji
•Understandings of maji are shared by most rural Haitian, and are thus a part of
rural Haitian culture
•For many Haitians, “equality” has come to mean shared poverty; fear of magic
reinforces a concern central to life in rural Haiti; fear of magic forces questions
concerning the way that villagers get along with one another, the way they share
•Events that involve maji fit into a number of interlocking cultural systems, of
which voodoo and brands of Christianity are important but not determinant parts
•Contemporary understandings of maji took shape of the terrain of Saint
Domingue, where sorcery and poison became the slaves’ best defense against
•In the area of Do Kay, sorcery accusations are also marshalled against those
who advance too quickly in terms of material advantage.
•Those who break out of this poverty status are likely to be accused of sorcery
•One person’s fortune is manifestly another’s ill fortune
•The Haitian finds it difficult to admit that anyone might become rich without
having made an arrangement with a sorcerer; all this is the eternal jealousy of
the peasant, here taking the form of magical imputations
•Most frequently invoked as the ultimate cause of maji on Kay were “issues of
inheritance, jealousy, the trampling of someone in his own space”; local sorcery
accusations involved persons who were poor and disempowered (ex. Manno’s
peers were accused)
•Poor attack the poor because they are able to; “the guys without weapons know
what they can and cannot do.”—Dieudonne