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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Narratives of death in rural Malawi in the time of AIDS
Authors:Ashforth, AdamISNI
Watkins, SusanISNI
Periodical:Africa: Journal of the International African Institute (ISSN 0001-9720)
Geographic term:Malawi
rural areas
External link:https://doi.org/10.1017/S0001972015000017
Abstract:The key to understanding the experience of AIDS mortality lies in the stories that people tell each other about those they know who are suspected to have died from AIDS. The authors use a unique set of texts produced by rural Malawians reporting everyday conversations in their communities. These texts, drawn from the online archive of the Malawi Journals Project, consist of several thousand instances of ordinary people telling each other stories in the ordinary course of their lives. They are a form of insider ethnography, accounts of everyday life written by people immersed in the lives of their communities. Through analysis of these texts, the authors show that narratives of death are predicated upon the question 'Who is to blame?' They argue that a micropolitics of blame arises from practices of narrating death and shapes individual and collective responses to the epidemic. It is shown that the fact that narratives of death are predicated upon the question of blame both expresses and produces a desire for justice, both for the righting of wrongs through retributive punishment and for the restoration of harmonious social relations among the living. This desire for justice, the authors argue, is a central feature of the social impact of AIDS. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French [Journal abstract]