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AIDS and Accusation: Haiti and the Geography of Blame

4.16  ·  Rating Details ·  609 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
Does the scientific "theory" that HIV came to North America from Haiti stem from underlying attitudes of racism and ethnocentrism in the United States rather than from hard evidence? Anthropologist-physician Paul Farmer answers in the affirmative with this, the first full-length ethnographic study of AIDS in a poor society.
Paperback, 338 pages
Published August 9th 1993 by University of California Press (first published 1992)
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Renee Pinkston
This was an excellent read, however a dense one. While enrolled in a Medical Anthropology course for my undergrad degree I was required to read this one. Trust me, this is something that you would just pick up for a weekend read. It has a lot of topics that you really must sit down and think about.

Paul Farmer is a medical doctor and an anthropologist who has a big goal, to save the world. I must say that after I read this I felt that my goals very too small compared to this man. This book talks
Mar 02, 2008 Donna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Paul Farmer’s mission to educate the western world about the true causes of sickness and poverty, about the connections between political economy and human suffering is admirably addressed in this powerful book. Farmer tells us the stories of individual Haitians stricken with AIDS in the late 1980s in the tiny community of Do Kay. He explains how local knowledge and personal reactions to illness are connected to larger national and global forces, and how the stage was set hundreds of years ago f ...more
Jan 02, 2016 Coleen rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I read this book for a class at Rutgers called "The Color of AIDS" taught by Instructor Carlos U. Decena. It was definitely an interesting read. I liked learning about Haiti and I liked that Farmer included its history as a backdrop. It's definitely dense. I wouldn't read it for leisure. However, I'm glad I read it and I would refer to it as a resource if I ever did research in this realm.
Sep 13, 2007 Hanaan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A potentially great book ruined as the author decended into an angry diatribe against foreign intervention in Haiti. The first 150 pages were exellent - Farmer meticulously documents the story of a small Haitian village, its history, community and the beginning of its AIDS crisis. It is both a moving story and extremely compelling reading. Farmer then dedicates a large section of the book to a history of the Haitian state and its political economy, and this is where he unfortunately goes off the ...more
Nov 03, 2014 Deb rated it it was amazing
Great book. Should have 5 stars for significance, really. "Like" isn't the right word for the book -- maybe utmost respect and admiration? Incredibly compelling, and the importance of the subject carried me through the one or two dry statistics chapters in the middle. He shows the obstacles poor rural Haitians face without making them seem like victims, nor obscuring their individuality. Great brief history of Haiti, and its intertwining with the U.S. And also a great job of medical anthropology ...more
Jun 15, 2009 Lindsay rated it liked it
Parts of this book were very good, parts of it were very boring. Farmer wrote this book from his dissertation and you can definitely tell. There is a lot of background information that is "unnecessary" to the heart of the story (the sociological study of HIV in Haiti) that would not be missed by the common reader. The most interesting stuff is the qualitative interviews he does with the people of Do Kay around the 4 case studies of HIV that he does. I feel like his arguments around the blame and ...more
May 24, 2007 Priyanka rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in global affairs
This is an excellent book that provides insight on Haiti through the interdisciplinary lens. It's not just about AIDS. It's about how the AIDS epidemic took place in Haiti through the actions of the United States as well as Haitian leadership. It is a historical account of events with personal accounts of real people, on the backdrop of environmental justice. Did you know that the US gov. wiped out ALL creole pigs, which were Haitian pigs, so that pigs from the US would be sent over there? Haiti ...more
Jan 13, 2008 Lisa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ethnographies
My all time favorite ethnography. Farmer possesses this brilliant ability to write to many audiences at once. You may read the text with a level of academically oriented sophistication or approach it with little interest and background in anthropology or medicine and take something very valuable away. He is also successful at weaving the local and the global together with artistic and scholarly style. He writes of personal stories from Haiti and contextualizes them within different levels of ana ...more
Mar 15, 2013 HyL rated it it was amazing
Vitally important book, a must read for anyone working in public health, medical anthropology, health and foreign policy, and most especially, HIV. If every organization working on the reconstruction of Haiti after the earthquake of 2010 ( isn't listing this book as mandatory reading for every single worker, volunteer, advisor... they should! Event though it came out in 1994, the key points - about assumptions and how they can have devastating effects for ...more
Mar 23, 2014 Bri rated it liked it
This is a very thorough look at the exploitation of Haitians and Haiti's role and history in world politics. It is fairly repetitive and I don't know how convincing it is as an ethnography since the lens is more historical and global. But it has a lot of merit for complicating ideas about AIDS, Haiti, and the U.S. The story of AIDS in Haiti is very dark and much more complicated than early considerations were. The main message I got was that Haitians have a much better idea of the discrimination ...more
Excellent analysis of the causes and course of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Haiti and other tourist-visited Caribbean islands. With a lens on Haiti, Dr. Farmer examines the disease introduction and processes on the ground exploring environmental, economic, political, racial, historical and epidemiological processes all together. Highlighting racist exoticism of Haitians and astonishing mythologies spoken as fact by so-called medical experts, Dr. Farmer gets to the heart of the epidemic as a complex ...more
Sep 25, 2009 Kristen rated it really liked it
Excellent example of medical anthropology. Farmer combines history, political economy, epidemiology and lived experience. He poses a convincing challenge to the idea that AIDS was brought to the U.S. from Haiti and argues that, most likely, it was the other way around. But he doesn't stop there. He digs deeper, exploring the historical, sociological and cultural roots of the propensity to blame Haiti for all its problems -- and, now, for AIDS.
Feb 07, 2016 Melissa rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
It's quite repetitive, but it provides a good understanding of why many development projets don't work (they don't consider the local and social practices). It also questions the implication of Occident countries (specifically in this case, US) in southern countries and shows the inequality on the ground (the US authorities have more power than local citizen) and questions the power of sovereignty.
Sep 08, 2009 Jeffcolli rated it really liked it
A fantastic critique of the initial epidemiology performed by western experts, which lead to the creation of the "4 H club", one of which stood for Haitians. Farmer convincingly argues that when AIDS arrived in the western hemisphere, it most likely moved from the U.S. to Haiti, and not the other way around.
Oct 23, 2012 Sarah rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Read for class. I couldn't get into it, I felt that Farmer repeated himself and I had trouble keeping up with the names. I felt that the book could have been a little better organized for an easier and less flustrating reading.

The best parts were the chapters that focused on the individual stories of specific people.
Jul 20, 2008 Dale rated it really liked it
The cover shown here is the earlier edition, I am reading the updated version from 2006. This is an excellent look at the politics of the AIDS crisis from one of the leading experts in public health and medicine in the third world, as well as here at home. Recommended reading.
Nov 09, 2007 Michelle rated it really liked it
Farmer outlines the beginning of the AIDS epidemic and the structures that led to the blame of Haiti for transmission of the virus to the United States. As always, Farmer looks at the root causes of inequality that are the real culprits of the transmission of infectious disease.
Jul 28, 2014 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: penn
I think Paul Farmer is one of the greatest academic writers. His texts are fairly accessible and engaging. This one of the earliest books of his that I read and it upended many of my ideas on what is happening in the world around me.
May 05, 2008 Especianise rated it it was amazing
Great book that provide in insight of how HIV made its way to Haiti, the devastating effects it has on lives, and Haiti being blame for HIV in the USA and the social implication of that blame.
so far it is is giving a great overview of the history of AIDS and has very touching personal stories from women who had AIDS.
Kilia Shanklin
Mar 18, 2013 Kilia Shanklin rated it it was amazing
Taught me how to see illness in the view of the people instead of through science. Simply amazing read.
Mar 26, 2008 Kendra rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Concisely, the enthographic accounts in Paul Farmers AIDS and Accusations are worth the read---a lot of the rest is dry and difficult to get through, even for a public health major. ...more
Jun 25, 2008 Calen rated it it was amazing
AMAZING book. Definitely useful to remember the manipulations and constructions of disease and its identity before we endorse what we are told, what we read etc. Realy well written.
Lauren rated it really liked it
Jun 14, 2016
Susan rated it really liked it
Dec 26, 2014
April Hayes
April Hayes rated it it was amazing
Mar 10, 2008
Sarah rated it liked it
Feb 20, 2012
Jonathan rated it it was amazing
Feb 13, 2016
Alice Ager
Alice Ager rated it really liked it
Feb 11, 2015
Kiehl Christie
Kiehl Christie rated it it was amazing
Nov 28, 2007
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Paul Farmer is a U.S. anthropologist and physician, the Presley Professor of Medical Anthropology in the Department of Social Medicine at Harvard University, and an attending physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. In May 2009 he was named chairman of Harvard Medical School's Department of Global Health and Social Medicine. His medical specialty is infectious diseases. ...more
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