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AIDS and Accusation: Haiti and the Geography of Blame

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  770 ratings  ·  38 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 26th 1992 by University of California Press (first published 1992)
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Renee (The B-Roll)
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
Sep 11, 2007 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
Feb 02, 2008 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
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Brilliantly written. Incredibly thorough ethnographic and medical research has been done and yet it does not read like other research-dense ethnographies. Impressive, intense, and interesting; A triple whammy!

Not to mention the debunking of multiple stigmas stemming from racist and colonial attitudes, regarding HIV/AIDS.

Jan 23, 2010 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
May 24, 2007 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
Feb 25, 2015 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.
Mar 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a captivating book about Dr. Farmer's learning from his years in Haiti. I read this as a requirement for a faculty-led trip abroad (a Creighton University program), but I would read it again regardless. This is a must-read for anyone claiming to care about sustainable health care.
Arthur (Arby) Segismundo
Paul Farmer is a great writer and this book particularly illustrated the negative impact of Haitian stigmatization during the AIDS epidemic.
Jul 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Fascinating look at the economic, historical, political, and social aspects of disease. Thought-provoking book!
Wasn't sure what to rate this one, so I'm a little hesitant. There is certainly much to be learned about the etiology, history, and epidemiology of sida/AIDS in Haiti from this book, but the political, social, and ideological analyses are about what you would expect from someone who, as a white man employed by Harvard, is paid to not understand imperialism, white supremacy, or even capitalism (in fact, I didn't think it was possible to write a whole book about this topic without once making any ...more
May 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
I read this for a Medical Anthropology in Biocultural Perspective class, and all I can say is, yeah, now I ~get~ the cult of Paul Farmer.
Dec 28, 2008 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
Jan 02, 2008 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 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
Feb 26, 2014 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
Jun 10, 2009 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 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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 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 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.
Nov 09, 2007 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 18, 2008 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.
Jul 28, 2014 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.
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.
Jan 26, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Concisely, the enthographic accounts in Paul Farmer´s 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.
Apr 27, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who is motivated to help the developing nations of this world
Stigmas and the bastards that created them...
May 05, 2008 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.
Jun 25, 2008 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.
Oct 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
Great Medical Anthropology book and a must read for anyone interested in Haiti-American relations
Aug 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Farmer knows his stuff-accessible and gut-wrenching on one of my favorite topics
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Paul Farmer is Professor of Medical Anthropology at Harvard Medical School and Founding Director of Partners In Health. Among his books are Infections and Inequalities: The Modern Plagues (1999), The Uses of Haiti (1994), and AIDS and Accusation: Haiti and the Geography of Blame (1992). Farmer is the winner of a MacArthur Foundation "genius" award and the Margaret Mead Award for his contributions ...more

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