Review of “Love, Money, and HIV: Becoming a Modern African Woman in the Age of AIDS” (2014)

Sanyu Mojola’s “Love, Money, and HIV: Becoming a Modern African Woman within the Age of AIDS” (2014) presents a compelling, multilayered, processual account of the ways in which altering concepts of modernity and the growth of a gendered market financial system combines with the physiological and ecological construction of HIV transmission danger to provide the outrageous inequity in HIV burden borne by girls in Africa. She says, “Specifically, I illustrate how consuming younger girls have been cultivated and produced, in three contexts—communities, faculties, and labor markets” (p. 8). For her, the dramatically gendered disparities in HIV burden and experiences can solely be adequately explored by tracing the interwoven threads of the structuring market, its shaping power on cultural norms and tendencies, and the implications for younger womens’ seek for love and need amidst the specter of HIV. As Mojola describes, girls are caught between the culturally and institutionally cultivated demand to devour—merchandise, magnificence items, every day indicators of standing and modernity—whereas additionally being structurally excluded from the overwhelming majority of the formal labor market and constant revenue potential. The demand for steady revenue results in emergence of assorted types of “transactional sexual relationships” that tackle totally different varieties in several settings, however all assist to fulfill consumptive wants and norms.

Mojola was born in Tanzania however attended school within the UK and graduate faculty on the University of Chicago. As she in consequence her writing has an emotional and mental proximity that’s uncommon. It makes the proof—qualitative and quantitative—all of the extra compelling. As she says, “I used to be Robert Park’s ‘marginal (wo)man”, belonging, but not fairly belonging, understanding but not fairly understanding…Far from an impersonal and purely tutorial account, then, this guide is a examine concerning the younger girls whose harmful transitions I may need needed to traverse aside from the unusual turns my life has taken” (p. 27-28). Using a life-course framework to review younger folks’s transition to maturity within the context of the HIV epidemic, she mobilized interviews with 185 folks (younger folks, middle-aged adults, and older adults) from the Nyanza province of Kenya; population-based survey information from Kenya; and, ethnographic area work.

Mojola’s central puzzle is: what social forces lead girls to be so extraordinarily susceptible to HIV an infection in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly the jap a part of the continent? Research on the problem tends to give attention to three broad units of interrelated causal components—biophysiological, proximate explanations, and social structural causes. Biophysiological components embrace the connection of feminine anatomy/physiology and its relationship to HIV transmission potential. Proximate explanations are likely to give attention to the age at first intercourse, the variety of sexual companions, condom use, the construction of sexual networks, and migration patterns. Mojola identifies one key social-structural trigger, which is the central analytic lens of the guide: consumption. She explores the how socially produced consumption needs form habits and consequent danger for contracting HIV; how consumption operates inside networks and establishments (corresponding to faculties and labor markets) to form HIV danger; and, how the structuring dynamics of consumption patterns are comparable throughout high-prevalence settings throughout Africa.

Mojola begins her substantive argument by tracing the phenomenology of “modernity” as skilled by younger girls, transitioning to maturity, in sub-Saharan Africa. Globalized notions of style, advertising and media allow manufacturers and consumption patters to be prolonged to even locations “distant” from the metropole/former colonial facilities. In locations marked by vital poverty, “consumption is obtainable used and at a deep low cost—by means of secondhand North Face clothes that has made its manner from Western charities, for instance, or by means of low cost pay-as-you-go Nokia cellphones” (p. 34). This trendy (post-modern?) type of consumption has a markedly gendered dimension: “the dominant signifier of modernity for younger girls is the acquisition, consumption, and show of recent items. Indeed, there’s a sense in studying these accounts that transactional relationships as a way for enhanced consumption are an indelible a part of the panorama of younger African girls’s relationships” (p. 36). As has most notably been mentioned by Viviana Zelizer and others, cash, transactions, items, intercourse, and intimacy are sometimes interwoven inside relationships. Women and males interact in “relational work” to keep up culturally applicable and sanctioned matches between cash, media, and morals inside intimate relationships. This isn’t any much less true within the relationship types of younger African girls, and these constructions have vital implications for the noticed disparities in HIV charges. “In Kisumu, Nyanza, for instance, three-quarters of males surveyed reported giving a median of 10% of their month-to-month revenue to their nonmarital, noncommercial sexual companions… transaction in intimate relationships was the norm relatively than the exception on this setting” (p. 37).

As has been demonstrated in analysis on “sugar daddies” and different types of specific and non-explicit types of transactional intimate relationships (within the U.S. and elsewhere), “when entry to cash and sources is structurally constrained, transactional intercourse emerges as a manner of ‘redistribution and reciprocity in an unequal and unsure world,’ the place males’s dominant entry to wealth and sources ‘compels them’ to have concurrent sexual partnerships involving transactional intercourse” (p. 42). Market calls for for consumption are subsequently intimately tied to the gendered danger of contracting the all consuming sickness of HIV/AIDS (“Ayaki [Luo word for AIDS] got here from the foundation phrase yako, which suggests to devour very quick, in such a manner that shows greed” (p. 51)). An fascinating apart is the parallelism within the dialogue of consumption in HIV and the historical past of tuberculosis as a consumptive illness. The entanglement of aesthetic, moral, cultural, and market calls for for consumption are structuring for the expertise of infectious illness transmission danger. The pursuit fo the raha—the nice lifetime of enjoyment and consumption—formed the HIV epidemic which was “not simply consuming anybody; it was consuming younger girls” (p. 59).

Mojola describes the “nice transformation” of colonial/post-colonial settings in a Polanyian manner: relationships, notably intimate ones, are embedded inside a fancy, traditionally rooted matrix of ethical, moral, and social meanings and commitments. “It was not cash that alienated or ‘ushered in ethical confusion’ or that created alienated social trade. Rather… ‘you will need to perceive the cultural matrix into which it’s integrated” (p. 75). Money and the consumptive market financial logic imbricated with present historic norms of kinship, marriage, relationship, and sexual norms. Mojola signifies two main types of transactional relationships which have emerged: relationships for training and relationships for intercourse. The former, nonetheless, typically advanced into the later. “For many younger males, the one honest trade or reward for the reward of cash was having intercourse in return. Boy didn’t essentially should be rich, however wanted to have the flexibility to get or earn cash to assist their girlfriends” (p. 83). In Zelizerian phrases, items of money and consumptive merchandise (magnificence and different sorts) [the media] had been matched with evolving transactional relationships which weren’t poisoned, or “tainted” by such money and “financial” transactions, however had been truly imbued with further that means and ethical significance in consequence. “Both intercourse and cash expressed love. In different phrases, love = intercourse + provision” (p. 87).

These tendencies had been actively cultivated in younger girls, as explored by Mojola, in two main establishments: the college and the labor market. Puzzlingly, girls with extra training are noticed to have larger charges of danger for contracting HIV. “The pondering goes, if training has such dramatic results on one sexually transmitted situation—fertility—why not on HIV/AIDS?” (p. 114). Her clarification hinges on the ways in which structural processes and norms, refracted by means of gendered practices, formed the notion of a “trendy schoolgirl” as “Consuming younger girls [that] had needs that might solely be happy by consumption, needs that had been thought of requirements and integral to schoolgirls’ transformation” (p. 132). This culturally disciplining nature of the demand for turning into a contemporary, consuming, younger girl mixed with the norms of participating in transactional relationships with working-class males to get cash to pay for these wants, is Mojola’s foremost clarification for the linkage between elevated training and elevated HIV danger.

Finally, the gendered nature of the financial system and the construction of the labor market was one other manner that the embedded types of financial and that means making turned entangled in and produced the dangers of contracting HIV. As she states, “In explicit, the predominantly one-way switch of cash and items—from males to girls—in transactional relationships mirror the truth that in most settings, males have comparatively better entry to cash and sources because of the gendered construction of native economies” (p. 151). This gender-structured labor market exacerbated the sociocultural/financial constructions that produced unequal HIV transmission danger. The structural disconnect between the cultivation of younger, trendy, consumptive younger girls within the rising mass training system and the exclusion of ladies from the labor market and formal income-generating mechanisms that will be essential to finance this consumptive demand, produced the necessity for transactional sexual relationships with males. “They needed to be continuous shoppers and thus continuous transactors” (p. 169).

Mojola ends this guide with a name to motion: “The giant variety of younger girls at present starting their sexual lives in excessive HIV-prevalence environments recommend that coverage actions (or nonactions) undertaken within the subsequent 5 to 10 years could very properly decide the course of the HIV pandemic in Africa” (p. 183). She requires continued individual-level interventions such training and consciousness elevating, but additionally claims that this will likely be inadequate. As is the subject of this guide, change will solely happen with adjustments within the socio-structural determinants of HIV transmission: altering the college surroundings, cracking down on sexual relationships between lecturers and college students, legislating and making paying jobs extra out there to younger girls. Most promising is her transient abstract of the potential of conditional (and unconditional) money transfers to schoolgirls for HIV prevention. By decreasing the structural/financial pull that younger girls really feel of their pursuit of undertaking the position of being profitable younger, consuming, trendy girls, maybe the trajectory of the HIV pandemic might be altered.

Some key questions that come up for me:

  • Mojola appears to base her theoretical contribution constructing off of a mixture of Zelizer and Granovetter: networks and establishments structurally form the networks of relationships (the circuits) by means of which HIV is transmitted, but additionally reinforce the cultural really feel, aesthetic view, and ethical meanings related to these transactions, interactions, and at instances loving/intimate relationships. While this does look like a robust case instance of embeddedness and relational work in an understudied setting/inhabitants—with vital coverage implications—what does it add to sociological idea?
  • While she clearly engaged with younger girls who had been in tough straights, her respondents / pattern does appear to be comparatively properly off, city, school-bound girls. She explicitly says on a number of events that these weren’t transactional relationships of necessity (with a view to eat, have shelter), however relatively the wants expressed by the younger girls had been structured by the demand to devour alongside the strains dictated by the cultural pursuit of modernity. I ponder if this presents a limitation or just a purposeful focus for the construction of her analysis design?
  • A query that rises for me after having learn this examine is how the formal healthcare system shapes / impacts these cultural norms any of those socio-cultural structural determinants? If the college system (which arguably has a way more highly effective shaping operate) shapes and transmits norms, how may the healthcare system be current in faculties, or extra out there in contexts the place their prevention actions could possibly be improved?
  • How does this analysis intersect with James Ferguson’s (and others) work on money transfers? Would love to speak about this within the context of “Give a Man a Fish.”

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