Journal Article


Mapping the Body: Tracing the Personal and the Political Dimensions of HIV/AIDS in Khayelitsha, South Africa

Published on 1 April 2009

This article offers an analysis of the body-mapping dimension of the ‘treatment literacy’ initiatives of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), an HIV/AIDS-focused social movement in South Africa. It situates body mapping within the politics of HIV/AIDS activism in South Africa. The alliance between activists and biomedical practitioners is explored and the emphasis on the ‘science of HIV’ in TAC treatment literacy considered alongside the foregrounding of social realities, such as poverty and inequality. The article argues that the education activities of the TAC illustrate ‘context-sensitive’ science, rather than following a linear model of ‘public understanding of science’. The personal accounts published alongside the first body maps are explored to illustrate an evident re-socialisation of biological organs and an emphasis on the relationality of bodies. The bounded bodies and the activist emphasis on body politics become ways to counteract fears of the virulence of the illness.


Image of Hayley MacGregor

Hayley MacGregor

Research Fellow

Publication details

MacGregor, H.
Anthropology & Medicine, volume 16, issue 1


About this publication

South Africa

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