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Reporting aids: representation, rhetoric and the construction of global geographies of aids Little, Matthew Henderson 1994

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REPORTING AIDS: REPRESENTATION, RHETORIC AND THE CONSTRUCTION OFGLOBAL GEOGRAPHIES OF AIDSbyMATTHEWHENDERSON LITTLEB.A. (Hons.), The University of Oxford, 1988A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIALFULFILLMENTOFTHE REQUIREMENTSFOR THE DEGREEOFMASTEROF ARTSinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATESTUDIES(Departmentof Geography)We accept this thesis as conformingto the required standardTHE UNIVERSITYOF BRITISH COLUMBIAOctober 1994© MatthewHenderson Little, 1994In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(SignatureDepartment of_____________The University of British ColumbiaVancouver, Canada( IDateDE-6 (2/88)Reporting AIDS: Representation, Rhetoric and theConstruction of Global Geographies of AIDSAbstractI aim to examine some of the complex personal, political and popular geographies generative of,encoded in and legitimated by the ‘epidemic of signification’: the construction of AIDS throughdiscourse and language. Peter Gould’s popularly-oriented book The Slow Plague is, arguably,Geography’s most significant entry to date into this discourse and Slim: A Reporter’s Own StoryofAIDS in East Africa forms a key part of the same ‘epidemic’. It was written by Ed Hooper, ajournalist and photographer for the BBC and Guardian, who produced several of the early ‘AIDSin Africa’ Western media representations.Both men write ‘authoritatively’ about AIDS, aim to serve the ‘public’, and rely upon the rhetoricsof science, objective journalism and empire for the powerful conveyance of their stories andrespective geographical knowledges. The signifying practices and rhetoric they use encode andlegitimate a wide variety of aspirations, meanings, beliefs, attitudes, ideas and actions. I amattempting to unravel their complex narratives: focussing initially on a critique of Gould’s conceptof science; then interrogating the explicitly visual and scientific geography Gould aims to situatewithin the AIDS research paradigm. I use Slim to examine the mechanics of construction of the‘AIDS in Africa’ Western media discourse, focussing both on the formative and intense discursivemoment of the late 1980s and on more recent media representations of ‘AIDS in Africa’. Thisallows these representations to be situated within a specific and revealing personal and politicaldiseconomy of capital, access, perception and production. By unravelling these respectivenarratives I aim to map part of the complex political and critical terrain that a Human and humaneGeography must negotiate if it is to respond to the complex AIDS geographies revealed.11TABLE OF CONTENTSAbstractTable of Contents iiiList of Figures VINTRODUCFION 1Chapter One Spatial Science and Savage Pictures: The Geographer Reports on AIDS 5Introduction 5Gould’s Critique of AIDS science 8Geography into the Breach 11The Paradox of Critique 19Enlightenment Inheritors: Gould and Habermas 26Vision and Geography: Telling Necessary Fictions 33Gould’s Spatialisation of HIV and AIDS: Cutting the Cloth 36Gould’s Visualisation of H1V and AIDS: Metaphors and Maps BeforeOur Very Eyes 41Seeing Place Through a Zoom Lens 45Geographers’ Savage Pictures: AIDS Out of Africa? 49Conclusion 54Chapter Two On Safari: A Journalist’s Own Story of AIDS in East Africa 63Introduction 63Where the Story Begins 63Rhetoric and Representation: the literary construction of Slim 75A Quest for Truth on a Potholed Road 75Smitten by Uganda 77looper’s ‘Africa’ 82AIDS from an Isolated and Forgotten Land 85AIDS and Modernity 87An Inexplicable Medical Disaster? 89Diseconomies of Production: the literal construction of Slim 92Commodifying 92Moving 97Seeing 100111The AIDS ‘safari’ 1011. A Widow and a Funeral 1032. Florence 1043. Mirina 1094. Beatrice 110Conclusion 111Affecting 112The Journalists’ “Service Industry” 117Conclusion 125Chapter Three A Continent Under Siege: The Western Media Report on ‘AIDS in Africa’ 131Introduction 131A Continent’s Agony: The New York Times 140A New Agony: The Times of London 147Back to Buffalo Bill’s: The Guardian 154The Use of Florence’s Photograph 160Anxieties and Ambiguities 171Conclusion 176Postscript 182Bibliography 197ivLIST OF FIGURESFigure 1: Gould’s “Backcloth”, from The Slow Plague. 14Figure 2: An Example of Gould’s Cartography - the Bronx AIDS “death surface”, fromThe Slow Plague. 16Figure 3: Gould’s Textual Visualisation of HIV and AIDS, from The Slow Plague. 17Figure 4: Photograph of “Kasensero, on the shores of Lake Victoria, where some of theearliest recorded cases of AIDS occurred” taken by Ed Hooper. 64Figure 5: “Map of East Africa, showing the main trucking routes”, from Slim. 78Figure 6: “Map of Rakai District, southern Uganda”, from Slim. 79VIntroductionAside from its harsh physicality, AIDS is a nexus of meaning and discourse. Particular notions ofsex, race, gender, religion, medicine, science, the social, nature and culture are called upon andreinforced or re-negotiated whenever AIDS is talked about. When one writes authoritatively aboutAIDS, a deep responsibility is shouldered. Meanings, beliefs, attitudes, ideas and actions flowfrom the text - writing within this nexus can have a very real, material effect on bodies. The sweepof a powerful pen may lead directly to mental and physical pain, or it may offer succour, hope oran easing of suffering. Hall was not overstating his case when he declared “textuality as site of lifeor death” since the manner in which one talks, writes, and represents in relation to AIDS can beexactly this.1Here I examine three sets of popular and potentially very powerful representations constructedwithin this frighteningly significant discursive nexus. Peter Gould’s popularly-oriented book TheSlow Plague is, arguably, Geography’s most significant entry to date into the discourse on AIDSand I analyse his work in detail in Chapter One, focussing initially on a critique of Gould’s conceptof science; then interrogating the explicitly spatial, visual and scientific geography that Gould aimsto situate within the AIDS research paradigm.I then turn from an analysis of Geography’s dominant response to AIDS to a specific andmonolithic popular geography worked out within this nexus, ‘AIDS in Africa’, as chronicled bythe media, specifically the ‘quality press’, in Britain and North America. Slim: A Reporter’s OwnStory of AiDS in East Africa forms a key part of this popular discourse. It was written by EdHooper, a journalist and photographer for the BBC and The Guardian, who produced several ofthe early ‘AIDS in Africa’ Western media stories and also several photographs of Ugandan peoplewith AIDS which were syndicated widely in Britain and North America. Slim is a literaryjournalistic account of Flooper’s time in Uganda reporting AIDS. It therefore both describes the1 Hall, S. 1992: “Cultural Studies and its Theoretical Legacies” in Grossberg, L., Nelson, C. and Treichier, P.(eds.), Cultural Studies (New York: Routledge), p.285.1mechanics of construction of the ‘AIDS in Africa’ media discourse and feeds into this self-samediscourse as a piece of popular representation itself. So, in Chapter Two I aim to examine, first,the literary construction of representations of ‘AIDS in Africa’- attempting to unravel theintertwining rhetorics of objectivity and empire within which the story is predominantly couched.And, secondly, I examine the literal construction of this discourse, since Slim reveals for analysisthe asymmetries of power and disproportionate economies of capital, access, sight and productionthat underpin and enable the ‘AIDS in Africa’ media narrative. These asymmetries anddiseconomies normally lie hidden behind the journalistic rhetoric of objectivity and passivity butthey form a crucial part of the actuality of the situation from which these representations emerge. Aconsiderable amount of meaning is added to the media representations when considered within thecontext revealed by Slim. Therefore, having examined this context, in Chapter Three I turn to themedia representations themselves, considering, initially, the frantic and frightening discursivemoment in the late 1980s to which Slim provides the backdrop. This period of time saw ‘AIDS inAfrica’ first reported in the Western press and, I believe, established a dominant tone andframework within which the story was relayed and understood, a framework of understanding stillin use today. This framework both encodes and legitimates a series of polymorphous collusionsbetween racism and sexism and draws upon and reinforces a particularly distinctive geographicalimaginary: the story seems to take place in an aestheticised and isolated essentially colonial,chaotic, woeful and disease-ridden ‘Africa’ , and this, of course, has many detrimentalrepercussions for those so represented.I conclude, by way of a postscript, by examining the first signs of fracture in this monolithic‘AIDS in Africa’ media discourse described above. In 1993, while other news outlets continued torelay the ‘AIDS in Africa’ story within the framework of understanding established in the late1980s, The Sunday Times of London broke ranks and began to run a series of articles suggestingthat ‘AIDS in Africa’ was actually “a myth.” This new twist in the discourse obviously has equallyserious implications for the represented. An analysis of this second, more recent discursive mediamoment also begins to reveal the alarming complexity of the political and critical representationalterrain that Geography must negotiate if it is to contribute - as it can and should - to the fight2against AIDS. This concluding postscript does not attempt to then re-package or summarise thisterrain. It is, instead, a deliberately open ending to the analysis of a discourse containing asickening degree of gross and dangerous oversimplification and closure.My three chapters and postscript are each intended to stand alone, as separate and distinct ‘cuts’ atthe Geography and geographies of AIDS. But they are bound together by a number of commonthemes and areas of investigation, and, as such, therefore represent separate cuts into the sameanatomy of power, knowledge and spatiality surrounding ‘AIDS in Africa’. I attempt to approachthis varied collection of popular representations of AIDS and ‘AIDS in Africa’ from a critical butpragmatic position. The producers of these representations write ‘authoritatively’ about AIDS, aimto serve the ‘public’, and rely upon the rhetorics of science, objective journalism and empire for thepowerful conveyance of their stories and respective geographical knowledges. The signifyingpractices and rhetoric they use encode, enable and legitimate a wide variety of aspirations,meanings, beliefs, attitudes, ideas and actions. Power and political possibilities therefore bothembrace and emanate from the representations constructed. I attempt to unravel and assess theseaims and signifying practices and speculate as to the likely political and practical effects of therepresentations constructed within this geographical and Geographical discursive nexus. Inundertaking this analysis, I am necessarily critical of much that has been written by Geographerson AIDS and by the media on ‘AIDS in Africa’. Many offensive and potentially dangerous,perhaps even deadly, images and representations form this discourse. But my aim is not to pointan accusing finger at Gould, looper or others examined. Instead, I hope to subject thesestaggeringly important representations to intense and critical scrutiny and to begin tentatively tomap the political terrain which future, hopefully more sensitive, representations must negotiate.The representations produced by Geography and journalism are vital tools in the fight againstAIDS, offering radical potential and the potential for succour precisely because of the discursivepower they evidence here.But before turning to Gould’s work, a brief coda is necessary. I have moved rapidly from talk ofpain to talk of representations. These two sit uneasily together; after all “what is the point of the3study of representations, if there is no response to the question of what you say to someone whowants to know if they should take a drug and if that means they’ll die two days later or a fewmonths earlier?”2 AIDS may be a nexus of discourse to some, and, as such, ultimately a very realsite of life or death. But it is certainly not to others, and those of us who are able, at times, to treatAIDS as a nexus of discourse are, indeed, very fortunate. As Hall argues, AIDS rivets us to thenecessary modesty of the intellectual and critical project: a modesty stemming from a feeling ofephemerality and insubstantiality in the work one is doing while still forcing acknowledgment ofthe fact that, on one level, AIDS is very much a question of who gets represented, who does not,where and how. Critique and theory can indeed bring irreducible insights to political practice,insights which cannot be arrived at in any other way. But this approach to AIDS then places one ina necessary and irresolvable tension between intellectual ‘mastery’ and modesty. This necessarytension spans and links all four essays here.32 Ibid., p.285.This is a tension Peter Gould is also well aware of. In a paper entitled “Spaces of Misrepresentation”, Gouldaddresses the construction/deconstruction dichotomy directly. He states “I can see oniy three choices.. . The first isto set one’s feet firmly on the path of the avant-garde, to be at the mocking, and often self-mocking edge for its ownsake. Perhaps even with an awareness that one is caught up in the production-line-to-redundancy way ofcommenting about the world. . . Perhaps it is a choice made even while acknowledging that deconstruction itself isa templating, a particular way chosen to be in the world of texts, and therefore, despite all the shrill denials, amethod, one of those abhorred methods, nevertheless. It is, to scramble the metaphor thoroughly, the white togaapproach, sitting in the margined seats of the colosseum called Discourse, raising or lowering one’s thumb inproperly modulated, yet still gleeful, disdain at the efforts of those down there in the textual arena. Ribaldsuggestions of cowardness [sic], calls from the arena to join in the fray, are met with a properly cynicalcondescension only the truly vulgar deserve. After all, the last vestiges of blood and sand might never wash off, and,anyway, the cleaning bill for one’s togas would be quite unbearable’. This is skilful and lucid writing, but I feel heoverstates his case somewhat. He is aware of the tension between the two intellectual positions, between critiqueand construction, with the latter being the hardest task of all I feel. However, he presents the situation as anoppositional and antagonistic either/or “choice” when surely the two positions should be existing in symbiosis.Construction of representation then proceeds on the sound basis of critique, of learning from previous mistakes anderrors. As Hall eloquently shows, critique of representation is not a detached activity restricted to an idealized realm,especially when the subject of the representations is AIDS. It may be the easier task, but it is just as vital.Individuals on both sides of the dichotomy described by Gould need to avoid the oppositional thinking hedemonstrates. This entails neither positioning critique as an activity carried out by toga-wearing aesthetes nor theconstruction of representation as an activity carried out by vulgar, nasty scientists and journalists. Gould, P., 1994:‘Spaces of Misrepresentation’ in Farinelli, F. et al (eds.), Limits of Representation, Studies of Action andOrganisation Vol.5, (New York: The Institute of Mind and Behavior). Gould also uses this same “arena” metaphorin Gould, P. 1982: “Is it necessary to choose? Some technical, hermeneutic and emancipatory thoughts on inquiry”in Gould P and Olsson G (eds.), A Search for Common Ground (London: Pion Ltd), p.78.4Chapter One - Spatial Science and Savage Pictures: TheGeographer Reports on AIDSIntroductionPeter Gould’s book, The Slow Plaguc is geography’s most significant entry to date into whatTreichierhas called the epidemicof signification, the construction of AIDS through discourse andlanguage.1 He is attempting to situate geography within the AIDS research paradigm to rectifywhat he sees as problems stemming from its neglect of space and place; specifically in relation toplanning issues, education and epidemiologicalprediction. The brand of geography that Gouldproffers to AIDS research is both a typificationof, and development upon, the dominant approachof the discipline to the AIDS epidemic. For all its range, geography has drawn nearly exclusivelyon the specialism of medical geography and, even more specifically, spatial science in order todescribe the AIDS pandemic. Gould’s work, heavily reliant upon mathematicalmodelling andcartography, is also centrallyrooted within this tradition. To date, the two key geographical textson AIDS are, arguably, The Geography ofAIDS and the London InternationalAtlas of AIDS.2The title of the first, The Geography ofAIDS, hints at the largely monologicaltreatmentAlDS isgiven by the discipline. The books are founded upon a positivist epistemology and concentrate onthe global mapping and modelling of the origins and diffusion of HIV for the purposes ofprediction, control, planning and education.3 Gould broadly shares this epistemological1 Treichler, P. 1988: “AIDS, Homophobia and BiomedicalDiscourse: An epidemic of Signification”, in Crimp, D.(ed.), AIDS: Cultural Analysis/Cultural Activism (Cambridge, USA: MIT Press), pp.3 1-70.2 Shannon, G. W., Pyle, G. F., andBashshur, R. L. 1991: The Geography of AIDS: Origins and Course of anEpidemic (New York: Guilford); Smallman-Raynor, M., Cliff, A., and Haggett, P. 1992: London InternationalAtlas of AIDS (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers).3 An array of papers fill out this geographical spatial science AIDS paradigm. They include: Duff, A. K., Monroe,C., Dutta, H. M. and Prince, B. 1987: “Geographical Patterns of AIDS in the United States” in GeographicalReview 77, pp.456-471; Gardner,L. I., Brundage,J. F., BurkeD. S., McNeil, J. G., Visintine, R., and Miller R.N., 1989: “Spatial diffusion of the human immunodeficiency virus infection epidemic in the United States, 1985-1987” in Annals of the Association ofAmerican Geographers79, pp.25-43; Newman, J. L. 1990: “On thetransmission of AIDS in Africa” in Annals of the Association of American Geographers 80, pp.300-01; Shannon,G. W., 1991: “AIDS: a search for origins” in Ulack, R. and Skinner, W. F. (eds.), AIDS and the Social Sciences(Lexington: University of Kentucky), pp.8-29; Shannon, G. W., 1989: “The origin and diffusion ofAIDS: a viewfrom medical geography” in Annals of the Association of American Geographers 79, pp.1-24; Wallace, R. andFullilove, M. T. 1991: “AIDS deaths in the Bronx 1983-1988: spatiotemporal analysis from a sociogeographicperspective” in Environment and Planning A 23, pp.l’70l-l724; Wood, W. B. 1988: “AIDS north and south:5foundation, method and aim and I will discuss the problems that arise from it later. But The SlowPlague also represents a significant departure from the ‘traditional’ manner in which the disciplinehas handled the pandemic too. Gould’s geography may be scientific, but it is both deliberatelyaccessible, popularly-oriented and intended to have intense practical import, following in thefootsteps of his earlier work: Spatial Organization, with Abler and Adams, The Geographer atWork and, more directly, his analysis of the democratic consequences of Chernobyl, Fire in theRain.4 He is also aiming to speak and act outside the discipline - the explicitly ‘popular’ nature ofthe text and its publication by the prestigious Blackwells mean it will therefore have, potentially, avery significant ambassadorial impact.5 Fire in the Rain and The Slow Plague are the first twobooks in a geographical trilogy, with the third yet to appear,and they are connected by a veryspecific notion of geographical inquiry. The trilogy is prefaced by the Latin “liber geographicuspro bono publico” which hints at their content, philosophy and aim. Gould expands on this rathernoble aim as follows, “I have a very strong feeling that from time to time people in universitiesshould climb down that circular staircase in the ivory tower, and try to reach out beyond itsacademic walls to let other people know what has been seen from its vantage point. Perhaps it isworth reflecting upon the fact that ‘specula,’ the root of ‘speculation’ is a watchtower. That is whydiffusion patterns of a global epidemic and a research agenda for geographers” in Professional Geographer 40 pp.266-279. See also Watts, S. J. and Okello, R., 1990: “Medical geography and AIDS” in Annals of the Association ofAmerican Geographers 80, pp.301-303, for a critical reply to the earlier Shannon article in the same journal, and oneof the very few widely-circulated statements on AIDS not to emanate from the discipline’s spatial science specialism.Abler, R,. Adams, J. S. and Gould, P. 1971: Spatial Organization: The Geographer’s View of the World (NewJersey: Prentice Hall); Gould, P. 1985: The Geographer at Work, (London: Routledge); Gould, P. 1990: Fire in theRain: The Democratic Consequences of Chernobyl (Cambridge, England: Polity Press).The initial signs are that this ambassadorial effect is not entirely a positive one. Erik Eckholm, “a project editorfor The New York Times”, reviewed The Slow Plague for that newspaper. I will discuss Eckholm’s ownrepresentations of ‘AIDS in Africa’ in Chapter 3, but in his largely negative review he takes particular exception toGould’s prose, which he states is, “often patronizing, arrogant or bitter.” He also argues that some of the officialsand doctors that Gould “castigates” for spatial blindness early in the epidemic did, in fact, notice and react to thespatial patterns of AIDS diffusion “whether or not they used Mr. Gould’s precise language and techniques.”Eckholm, E. 1993: “The Where of AIDS” - Review of The Slow Plague in The New York Times Book Review,18/7/93, p.10.Jonathon M. Mann, the Professor of Health and Human Rights, Professor of Epidemiology and International Health,and Director of the International AIDS Center at Harvard reviewed The Slow Plague for Nature. His review wasmore balanced than Eckholm’s, but still negative overall. He declares, “The book is indeed initially stimulating,with sharp and pungent writing. The author’s wide-ranging observations and speculations are full of energy andpassion. He shines when criticizing others, which, at least at the beginning of the book, heightens ourexpectations.” I agree. But, ultimately, he concludes, “let us come to the central point. Having promised and failedto demonstrate how geography will make a critical difference, the author’s real agenda emerges. He informs us thatthere has apparently been a conspiracy against geographers; every time they have tried to clear up the confusionabout AIDS, they have been rebuffed. . . Regrettably, in the end, this is just an angry book, with familiar targetsfor the general reader: bureaucrats, governments and doctors” Mann, J. 1993: “Spreading Information” - Review ofThe Slow Plague in Nature 366, 25/11/93, pp.377-8.6this book is one of a series labeled liber geographicus pro bono publico - a geographical book forthe public good.”6 So Gould’s brand of geography is thus not just popularly-oriented and directedbeyond the discipline at the “busy but still curious public” for its own sake.7 It is intended to servethe “public good” through a communicative intervention in the tacit public sphere.8 I shall discussthis notion in more detail later.In Fire in the Rain and The Slow Plague, Gould is aiming to establish a “truth” which, if accepted,may shape attitudes or be acted upon and for this reason I wish to subject the latter book to theform of critique suggested by Treichler below.“If we relinquish the compulsion to separate true representations of AIDS from falseones and concentrate instead on the processes and consequences of representation anddiscursive production, we can begin to sort out how particular versions of truth areproduced and sustained, and what cultural work they do in given contexts. Such anapproach illuminates the construction of AIDS as a complex narrative and raisesquestions not so much about truth as about power and representation. To understandthe ways AIDS comes to be articulated within particular cultural contexts, the majorproblem is not determining whether a given account is true or false but identifying theunderlying rules and conventions that determine whether that account is received as trueor false, by whom, and with what material consequences.”96 Gould, P. 1993: The Slow Plague (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers), p.xiii.Ibid., p.xiii.8 This notion of “liber geographicus pro bono publico” has become honed and explicit in Fire in the Rain and TheSlow Plague, but the drive to use science to solve real human problems and, at the same time, to make this scienceunderstandable and explainable to the general public, has been a central concern threading itself through much ofGould’s work, even his early operations research and spatial science. See Gould, P. 1985: The Geographer at Work,(London: Routledge) for a useful summary of this concern and my later comments on Gould, P. 1982: “Is itnecessary to choose? Some technical, hermeneutic and emancipatory thoughts on inquiry” in Gould P and Olsson G(eds.), A Search for Common Ground (London: Pion Ltd), pp.71-104, for a more detailed exposition. There is aremarkable continuity in Gould’s work.9 Treichler, P. 1988: “AIDS, Homophobia and Biomedical Discourse: An epidemic of Signification”, in Crimp, D.(ed.), AIDS: Cultural Analysis/Cultural Activism (Cambridge, USA: MIT Press), p.48.7At a primary level Gould is telling stories about AIDS, simultaneously telling wider stories aboutrace, sex, nature, culture, science and so on, and constructing representations capable of very realeffects. What premises do these stories and representations rest on, and what effects might theyhave? And on a secondary level Gould writes for and about “the geographer” and rhetoricallyimplicates me, as another geographer, in his argument. Am I happy with what he says for me andthe specific notion of geography in which he would position - even implicate - me? This chapter isthus a two-pronged investigation of his work; focussing primarily on his representations of AIDS,but also examining the geography in which he is situated. This latter focus speaks to broaderissues since “the applied character of geography - whether in imperial enterprises or planningprogrammes - makes it a prime candidate for teasing out the relationships between, say, politicalstructures and intellectual puzzles, social forces and theoretical 0Gould’s Critique of AIDS ScienceThe Slow Plague is a complex and contradictory piece of work: it is grounded in mathematicalspatial science and advanced cartographic techniques and yet it is also presented through andliterally made present by simple literary metaphor, making it easy to read and understand; Gould ishighly critical of much scientific AIDS research and yet calls upon a geographic science of his ownto rectify the problems he identifies; and finally he delivers a stunning personal indictment of theworldwide bureaucratic and political structures charged with managing the AIDS epidemic and yetcan still envisage a science, geography, struggling free from these corrupting social and politicalinfluences in order to work towards the truth about the epidemic. Rather than simply summarisingGould’s narrative flow, I want to examine his emotive critique of existing AIDS science. Many ofthe flaws he identifies are to be filled, and are able to be filled, by a geographical science. Fromexamining his critique of AIDS research science I will therefore move on to a discussion of thegeography that Gould places in this breach - what it can do, its methods and assumptions, and thehelp he believes it can offer in the fight against AIDS.10 Livingstone, D. N. 1992: The Geographical Tradition: Episodes in the History of a Contested Enterprise (Oxford:Blackwell Publishers), p.3.8The first evidence Gould supplies to indicate that science can be something other than an apoliticaland objective quest for the truth in the name of public good comes early in the book when hedescribes the “discovery” of the 11EV virus. “The story of research is deeply blemished byoverwhelming arrogance, false claims, catastrophically dysfunctional rivalries, false publishedevidence, greed for scientific recognition, avaricious claims for huge amounts of money, andgovernmental interference that had everything to do with national convenience and nothing to dowith the truth. It forms a superb, if extreme, example of the fact that science is always a sociallynegotiated and socially interpreted endeavor. “11 Further evidence of this apparent social distortionof the scientific field follows when Gould argues that AIDS thinking and policy is trapped in thedimension of time, leaving us asking the essentially useless question “when”2, with thistemporal/differential approach proving to be an utter failure in “illuminating the epidemic in anyscientific sense, or providing any insight that might be of the slightest practical value in planning oreducation.”13 He vehemently attacks the epidemiologists and mathematical modellers whoresearch in this area and couch simple ideas in esoteric notation. They are presented as the epitomeof “pseudo-science”, hawking simple ideas deliberately “jazzed up” in “computerizedsandboxes”4to get bigger research grants but producing ultimately useless information becauseno one can do anything with the banal and hypothetical numbers they generate.’5 Gould arguesthat this paradigm holds a vice-like grip both on the scientific imagination and on public researchmoney, and he feels an extreme and vehement indignation on the taxpayers’ behalf.1611 The Slow Plague, p.4.12 Ibid., p.124.13 Ibid., p.140.14Ibid., p.156.15 Gould’s argument against the temporal/differential approach is powerful, but he may be overplaying the degree of‘spatial blindness’ of the AIDS research paradigm. There are epidemiologists, “geographers” among them, who areengaged in spatial modelling of HIV and AIDS: see Casetti, E. and Fan, C. 1991: “The Spatial Spread of the AIDSepidemic in Ohio: empirical analyses using the expansion method” in Environment and Planning A 23, pp. 1589-608; Smallman-Raynor, M., Cliff, A. D. and Haggett, P. 1992: London International Atlas of AIDS (Oxford:Blackwell Publishers); and various publications from the research work of Drs R and D Wallace on the diffusion ofAIDS and HIV in the Bronx.16 The Slow Plague, p.163.9Gould’s aim is to add the question “where?” to the broad scientific agenda in order to remedy whathe sees as “spatial blindness” within the temporal paradigm and offer a vital new perspective in thefight against AIDS. He wants to lift scientific vision from the purely temporal horizon. Hisfrustration with the existing order of AIDS thinking and policy is palpable and his criticisms ofexisting research approaches are powerfully and emotively advanced and read convincingly. Heoffers many reasons why “we” have been let down by supposedly objective, truth-seeking science,but all seem to stem from an apparent belief that rational science can be muddied, contaminated,constrained or distorted by social and political influences, in particular, money and power.For example, bureaucracy imposes layer after layer of deadening and distorting constraint onscience - “bureaucratic power, combined with a deadly combination of Establishment ignoranceand arrogance, suppressed any consideration of the spatial dimensions of the epidemic.”17 Gouldargues that bureaucracies are “huge, ponderous, faceless institutions with the capacity and powerto bring the enormous resources of a society to bear on problems, but with an equal capacity andpower to avoid action and bury responsibility in pillow-like procedures . . . When a crisis like theAIDS pandemic builds slowly, like the slow virus that is its cause, the possibilities for exercisingand misusing power, while avoiding any responsibility for a decision are enormous.”18 In thecase of AIDS, he seems to suggest that science has been suffocated by procedures and committees,preventing it from responding flexibly and freely to the epidemic. As a result, “scholars’increasingly resemble marionettes jerking on the end of strings held by government fundingagencies. Too frequently these are administered by people who were incapable of imaginative andilluminating scholarly work themselves and so opted for bureaucratic administration instead.”19Gould also believes that dogmatically held political convictions are choking the reasonable andrational scientific quest. He notes, “strident and often sickening statements of moral judgement onthe right, and shrill posturing and babbling from the left, both sides exemplifying the certitude ofrigidly held moral positions [leavingi reasoned discussion with no place to go.”20 And, finally, he17 Ibid., p.137.18 Ibid., p.137.19 Ibid., p.138.20 Ibid., p.108.10argues that personal weakness in the form of greed, insecurity or need for recognition can also leadscience astray. As evidence for this claim he describes the manipulation of a broad-based scientificconference which he himself attended, observing “a display of individual agendas within groupagendas within conference agendas that really had little to do with solving genuinely importantscientific problems that by any stretch of the imagination were relevant to the AIDS epidemic.”21These agendas were instead, Gould argues, rooted in greed: “When a human crisis appears, andrelatively large sums of money become available to investigate it, all sorts of people come out ofhiding like hogs sniffing towards the trough at feeding time. Psychologists investigate thepossibility that AIDS might be stressful; sociologists want to test rigorously the idea that the HIVmight spread faster. . . among poor people; . . . economists tot up the cost of the epidemicAnthropologists appear as if by magic, each of them insisting that the place to study sexualbehavior and HIV transmission is among ‘their people.’”22 Geographers?Geography into the BreachDespite this damning and apparently much needed critique of AIDS science, policy and thought,Gould can still envisage the possibility of a science able to work for the public good. He reservesthe name “science” “for an honorable endeavor that seeks to illuminate some aspect of theworld.”23 This honorable endeavor is typified by his geography, which he situates beyond thewell-established ways of working, a “left-field” renegade outside the dominant AIDS research21 Ibid., p.143.22 Ibid., p.153.23 Ibid., p.162. A fuller picture of the notion of science that drives Gould’s The Slow Plague can be found byturning to his earlier work. In Spatial Organization, with Abler and Adams, Gould expresses a belief that humangeography is a social and behavioural science explicitly concerned with human spatial organization, but also that thediscipline must remain practically grounded, the site for applied problem-solving. Abler, R,. Adams, J. S. andGould, P. 1971: Spatial Organization: The Geographer’s View of the World (New York: Prentice Hall).He later professes a strong desire for “open philosophical reflection” coupled with an academic involvement “in realproblems that [demandJ that you get the mud of facts and observations upon your shiny intellectual boots.” Thedesire for openness is underpinned by a belief that “we can use, must use, all perspectives, all traditions of inquirysimultaneously” and constantly strive to lift our thinking from ideological and epistemological ruts and channels thatact to constrain our thought. Here, his continued and stated commitment to the solving of real problems and hisopenness to new philosophies is admirable. The Slow Plague acts as a testing ground for this personal aim andmethod. Can he practice what he preaches? Gould, P. 1982: “Is it necessary to choose? Some technical,hermeneutic and emancipatory thoughts on inquiry” in Gould P and Olsson G (eds.), A Search for Common Ground(London: Pion Ltd), pp.71-104.11paradigm, as yet unable to access adequate funding or influence policy, but battling against theodds to make a vital contribution, with the interests of the ‘person in the street’ at heart.24As stated above, this contribution is an opening of scientific, political and bureaucratic eyes tospace and place in AIDS research, education, planning and policy. Gould’s geography promises,he argues, a liberatory way of seeing and visualising the AIDS epidemic, with a series of diffusionmaps as most generative of the key “why” and “how” questions surrounding the spread of AIDS.He believes that such geographical awareness, if given due attention and brought to bear earlier inthe epidemic, would have shaken lethargy and helped in delivery of education, acted as an AIDSearly-warning system, and raised awareness that AIDS is close to all, not a distant threat.Geography thus offers sight to the AIDS research paradigm: a gaze down onto and across spaceand place, and a free and enabling way of seeing beyond the dimension of time. Gould describesbeing called, quasi-religiously, to this specific geographic way of seeing the world and his use ofthe fictive-we as his main mode of address for the reader in The Slow Plague means thatthroughout the course of the work “we” too see like Gould and, apparently, therefore like all“geographers”.25 Gould’s emphasis on geography as an intrinsically and essentially visual sciencegives rise to an incredibly scopophilic piece of work. Computer mapping and visual metaphorsconstruct an AIDS-scape out of traditional Cartesian geographic space, which “we” are then able toview, move around and survey as an eye on high.26 Reading this book is an aesthetic, kinesthetic,almost a cinematic, experience. While the experience may be aesthetic on one level, Gould wouldargue that this way of seeing is also intensely practical. He presents himself very much as a“doer.” In contrast to much of the AIDS “science” he criticises, geography is thus, it seems, bothclear-sighted and useful - a near ideal science.24 The Slow Plague, p.138.25 Ibid., p61. This positioning of geography as an intrinsically visual science with a distinct and useful way oflooking, quite literally, at the world is a common strand through much of Gould’s work, though hardly peculiarsolely to him. See also, for example, Abler, R,. Adams, J. S. and Gould, P. 1971: Spatial Organization: TheGeographer’s View of the World (New York: Prentice Hall).26 Gould exhibits the same mode of seeing in Gould, P. and White, R. 1974: Mental Maps (London: Penguin). Heshapes, sculpts and scapes Cartesian space and then graphically describes the mental map surfaces so constructed,observing them as a mobile eye on high.12Having engaged in a powerful and emotional critique of much existing AIDS research and placed avisual and scientific geography in the breach subsequently identified, Gould moves to demonstrateexactly what this geography can do. He draws on spatial science in order to model,mathematically, the diffusion of AIDS through space. The popular orientation of his work meansthat he does not reveal the exact details of the mathematics and models used, but he does provide averbal outline of his methodological framework.27 He envisages people as members of distinctsets, connected by relations (in this case primarily sexual, but presumably also needle-sharing,blood transfusions and so on) forming structures called backcloths. “It is on a human backcloththat a virus exists as a traffic, and it needs the backcloth of connective tissue to move from personto person as traffic transmission. As we shall see, to stop the HIV traffic transmission you have tobreak the connections and so fragment the backcloth.”28 He provides several graphical examplesof such a “backcloth” - one is reproduced overleaf.27 The language used to describe his mathematical method, together with the nature of Gould’s work elsewheresuggests that he is using Atkin’s Q-analysis (or polyhedral dynamics), which he describes as an emancipatorymathematics that lets the data set speak for itself by exploring and interrogating structure rather than imposingparticular pre-determined orders or classificatory structures upon that data. Gould, P. 1982: “Is it necessary tochoose? Some technical, hermeneutic and emancipatory thoughts on inquiry” in Gould P and Olsson G (eds.), ASearch for Common Ground (London: Pion Ltd), pp.7 1-104. A critique of this form of mathematics is beyond thescope of this essay, and as Gould presents his work here as a ‘black-box’, I aim to judge his method by its results andconclusions.28 The Slow Plague, p.33.13Figure 1: Gould’s “Backcloth”, captioned “A set of people structured by multiplesexual relations, including a male and female prostitute, both infected by theHIV. The structure of this backcloth allows for rapid transmission of the HIVunless structure-breaking condoms are used.”The Slow Plague, p.37.This notion of backcloth and traffic is, in essence, his spatial structure of understanding, uponwhich he builds his diffusion maps and bases his conclusions and proposed preventive measures.Gould’s spatial modelling is based on two forms of diffusion of the HIV virus across thisbackcloth: spatially contagious diffusion, which he describes as an oozing, like a “wine stain”spreading across a tablecloth; and hierarchical diffusion, which he describes as a jumping acrossspace, and, most notably, through the urban hierarchy.29 I will return to a discussion of cloth,traffic, oozings and jumpings later, but Gould is aware of the most obvious criticism that could belevelled at this spatial scientific modelling - that it objectifies the person with AIDS or sero-positiveindividual and reduces them to a node in a geometric network. He dramatically identifies0,0029 Ibid., pp.62-63.14objectification and abstraction of the human as the root cause of deathcamps, psycho-killers,gulags and Amin’s prisons and worries that the reader will ask “who is this guy?” as he discussesgeometries and structures in the face of a humanly devastating pandemic. He does believehowever that this discussion and method can serve a practical and helpful purpose and he insiststhat, though he abstracts, he is well aware that people form the structures he is dealing with. Andyet: can rhetoric soften a method that is founded upon an initial setting apart and objectification ofthe 11W-positive individual or is the method irrevocably flawed?Via this spatial modelling Gould generates a series of HW infection maps at a variety of scales,focussing, literally, on the US, the Bronx, Thailand and Africa in his examination of the spread ofHW. “We” are able to look down and across these spaces and see “where” and “how” (spatially)HW is spreading. Figure 2 is a reproduction of one such view, taken from Gould’s case study ofthe Bronx. In order to explain, in simple terms, the spatial and temporal patterns of infectiondisplayed on his maps, Gould draws on some remarkable visual and geographical metaphors. Ihave also reproduced the textual visualisation that accompanies the Bronx map, together with, inFigure 3, other examples of the extraordinary metaphors and similes used to describe and explainthe diffusion of HW and AIDS.15Figure 2: An Example of Gould’s Cartography - the Bronx AIDS “death surface”The Slow Plague, p.132.Gould describes the above map as, “a geographical portrait of human catastrophe” inwhich “the rising Western Ridge has now become a north-south wall of deathoverlooking Burnout Valley, across which you can see inselbergs (isolated mountains)of dead people piling up to the north, east and south.”The Slow Plague, p.133.1988 Bin out Valley16Figure 3: Gould’s Textual Visualisation of HIV and AIDS• 11W “works its way through society, like a floodtide working its way along the channels, creeksand tributary filaments of a salt marsh” (p.28.)• “Imagine yourself now in the center of AIDS space blowing a big soap bubble around Cleveland• . . Perhaps the HIV spreads in this way, slowly capturing the counties in AIDS space until themultiple bubbles reach those on the periphery and the infection is everywhere” (p.67.)• “the highly infected regional epicenters driving the seepage of the virus into the surroundingumlands” (p.83.)• “the advancing waves of spatial contagion from San Francisco, Portland and Eugene arethrowing out pools of infection ahead of them, pools that will grow and coalesce” (p.122.)• “a forest fire advancing steadily, but throwing out sparks ahead of the main burning to start localconflagrations” (p.122.)• “the soaring peaks of the urban epicenters driving the geographic diffusion of the virus coalescein many places to form mountain ranges of human infection and death” (p.125.)• The AIDS epidemic is also presented as “a great, slow, global tidal wave” (p.18.)• “AIDS tornadoes” touching down in communities. (p.26.)• He also constructs a global condom-scape, mapping condom usage before and after the adventof HIV, with “liv diffusing on a worldwide scale, changing the condom surface like a cold frontrippling across a weather map.” (p.48.)17Gould’s spatial science - his geographical ‘way of seeing’ - gives rise to this cartographicalrepresentation and its intensely visual, and intensely geographical metaphors. Thesevisualisations, like all representations, will impact on the reader, triggering particular meanings,beliefs, attitudes, ideas and possibly actions, and as such cannot be considered as innocuoussuperficial description or as unproblematic reflections of reality. Literary metaphors, and, morespecifically, metaphors drawn from the natural and physical sciences, are an integral part ofGould’s attempt to spatialise and visualise the spread of AIDS, and will have as ‘real’ an effect ashis diffusion maps. I will return to comment in more detail on Gould’s cartographical and literaryvisualisations of HIV and AIDS, and their possible implications, later.To further explain these wider scale spatial and temporal patterns of HIV infection, Gouldadvocates an increased attention to the specificity of place. By this he means that “we” shouldchange our “geographic lens”30 and focus in on particular areas in order to counter the grossstatistical generalisations produced by those working within the temporal paradigm discussedearlier, and increase our understanding of the diffusion of HIV at the small scale. For each of hisfour study areas, he demonstrates how this emphasis on place may work in practice as he zooms into draw on local social, cultural and political factors to explain the patterns of infection observed atthe wider scale. This results in an oscillation between nationwide geographies and local anecdotalaccounts of infection trends. Both sets of information emanate from the same viewing platform,the position from where “we” look at, but they are each produced, as Gould suggests, by adifferent power of lens.This information obtained from ‘place’ does serve to explain his grand scale spatialisations andvisualisations to some extent, and it is in these accounts that much of the work’s explicit politicalbite can be found. As was shown earlier in his critique of much existing AIDS research, Gould isnot afraid to move from his science and enter the political fray. In the chapter on the geography of30 Ibid., p.88.18the condom he attempts to describe reasons for global condom usage, firing off many‘explanatory’ anecdotes, some of which draw on rather dubious cultural generalisations - I willdiscuss these later - and some of which are extremely welcome. He discusses issues of male prideand machismo, exploitation of women and prostitutes, the role of patriarchy in the Thai sexindustry, and elsewhere he berates the Catholic church for preaching a prescription of death. He isundoubtedly frustrated with the political situation in Africa, believing that, as it stands, it offerslittle real hope of any concerted action to halt the spread of 11W. He sides with the Africanproductive poor and the taxpayers who must pay for the “coordinating activities of the elite,” andrails against African government corruption.3’ Finally Gould turns to the U.S. He reserves hishardest hitting for home. He provides a committed indictment of the political betrayal of the Bronxand laments “the languid neglect of self-righteous leadership” in the U.S. together with “thelethargy and benign neglect of presidents and cabinet members,” of all political persuasions.32 TheSlow Plague is thus a highly politicized work, but it is difficult to situate Gould within thetraditional political spectrum. Many of his comments are radical, but his attacks hit equally at leftand right. His political stance seems to be an extension of the renegade “left-field” position he tookin his critique of AIDS science. The social and the political, represented by politicians, religion,bureaucracy, patriarchy . . . frustratingly stands in his way as he attempts, as a geographer andscientist, to have a practical impact on the AIDS epidemic. His position, therefore, is essentiallyand admirably moralistic, as evidenced by his declaration: “Research proposals cannot be hitchedto the tumbrils carrying the dead to convert them into bandwagons fort the living. This is not ascientific question, but a moral one.”33The Paradox of CritiqueI have provided a fairly detailed summary of Gould’s arguments: from his vehement social critiqueof AIDS science, through his conception of a scientific and specifically visionary geography, to his31 Ibid., p.83.32 Ibid., p.108.Ibid., p.203.19spatialisation and visualisation of the spread of HIV, which he sees as the key practicalcontribution of geography to the fight against the AIDS epidemic. As noted earlier, The SlowPlague is a complex piece of work couched in a simple and popular tone. It combines the scientificand the popular; an intense critique of AIDS science with an ultimate adherence to the possibility ofclear-eyed research; and the intensely personal and political with a belief that an objective platfonncan be found from which to view, and enunciate upon, the AIDS epidemic.A central fissure therefore cuts through The Slow Plague. Gould acknowledges that science ingeneral is an intrinsically social endeavor and, more specifically, is also heavily critical of muchexisting AIDS science, suggesting it is distorted and tainted by money and power.34 And yet hethen moves to advance his own findings on the AIDS epidemic from an explicitly scientificplatform. He has here run into the unavoidable paradox encountered by all who attempt to engagein a social critique of science. As this form of critique bites, it also eats away the epistemologicalfoundations upon which its own authority and the immutability of its own knowledge claims arebased, since it will itself be affected by pretensions to science and judged by many of thesescientific standards - and this includes, of course, my own accounts here!Such critique therefore needs to find a way of negotiating this paradox. So Gould, in particular,must subsequently be able to demonstrate that his own science is, though intrinsically social, stillable to produce objective and truthful ‘visions’ of the AIDS epidemic, and also free from the socialand political distortions he observes in other branches of AIDS science. I wish to follow twopossible but very different readings of Gould’s attempted negotiations of this paradox. The firstreading relies purely on the evidence Gould lays before the reader in The Slow Plague itself, andthe second draws on work Gould has published elsewhere, and, as will be demonstrated, throws amuch better light on the nature of his project here.Ibid., p.4.20In The Slow Plague, Gould acknowledges that science is both “always a socially negotiated andsocially interpreted endeavor,”35and that “science is a socially contested enterprise.”36 He neverexplicitly reflects upon these assertions and, as a result, they are left hanging in the text reading asbland meta-level admissions of common critical knowledge. He does not appear to pursue theimplications of these comments through his own geographical science and the visions that itproduces. He is, however, more explicit in dealing with the manifestations of this acknowledgedsociality of science with reference to the AIDS science he so vehemently criticises. In describinghow these branches of science are, apparently, distorted by money and power, he appears to besuggesting that there are, in fact, two levels of sociality - a pure and harmless level which, ofcourse, “we” all know about, and a dirtier level which can taint, corrupt and distort. And, again,he provides no explicit reasons why his own geographical science should, in contrast, be free fromthis latter distorting influence and prove more reliable to the public. He may be blandly stating thatall science is social, but his social scientific practices are still presented as ‘better’ than others witha more privileged access to truth. And despite the evidence that he himself observes - of distortedAIDS science all around - he can still envisage a free scientific space or platform from which toobjectively view the spread of HIV and AIDS. Why and how? The reader is not told.Instead, it is necessary to turn to the work of others in order to examine, for Gould’s work, theimplications of this admission that science is ineluctably a social practice. Science is widely seenas an attempt to procure knowledge untainted by personal beliefs, social attitudes or politicalaspirations and therefore it has come to denote a privileged realm of knowledge production -reliable, removed and sharply differentiated from other intellectual domains. The ‘received’ viewof science assumes that scientific knowledge is determined by the actual nature of the physicalworld and that the social origins of this knowledge are irrelevant to its content. The socialconstructionist line of reasoning dismisses this view as carefully cultivated myth. In contrast to theabove ‘received’ view, Woolgar examines science as social activity, seeing science as inseparablefrom its social practice. So where Gould provides a socially critical reading of some of the AIDSIbid., p.4.36 Ibid., p.190.21science he encounters and suggests that he sees bad or tainted science, presented with the sameevidence, Woolgar would take a harder line than this: “it is not that science has its ‘social aspects’,thus implying that a residual (hard core) kernel of science proceeds untainted by extraneous nonscientific (ie. ‘social’) factors, but that science is itself constitutively social.”37 His view of sciencefinds little to demarcate it from other social activities save the (largely successful!) efforts of itspractitioners to create and service such a demarcation. This stance represents a progression ofthought through from the work of Kuhn, who developed an explicit notion of relativism within thephilosophy of science and argued that a mature science is conducted within a social and conceptualframework that sets standards for relevance, initiates students and so on.38Building on this notion of relativism, one arrives at the thoroughly relativist stance of Latour,Woolgar and the Edinburgh School of the sociology of scientific knowledge (David Bloor, BarryBarnes, Donald Mackenzie and Steven Shapin). The latter argue that scientific knowledge ismerely the expression of social interests because social relationships insinuate their way in toscientific pursuits at every single level.39 For example, scientists acquire technical skills whichrepresent vested interests to be valued and defended in their work, and one could perhaps arguethat Gould’s geographical and cartographic skills are pushed, behind a rhetoric of objectivity, forthese reasons, in which case, these interests and craft competences are seen to directly influencescientific knowledge content. Similarly, practices of careerism, like the passion for novelty toadvance one’s own prospects, also affect scientific research, as do social relationships betweenpractitioners, communication networks, reward systems, the influence of patronage andsponsorship. Even the rigour of scientific method is revealed, in the work of Latour and Woolgar,to be nothing more than an unobtainable ideal since “the tidy, ordered image which percolatesthrough idealized accounts of scientific procedure has little place in the cut and thrust of daily“ Woolgar, S. 1988: Science: The Very Idea (London :Tavistock Publications), p.13.38 Kuhn, T. S. 1962: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press).Of necessity here, I merely summarise a series of complex critiques of science in order to add to the evidenceGould collects - of science as socially embedded - and to undermine his own idealised notion of science. The work Icite here has itself been criticised for failing to take serious note of the fact that science has been largely produced bywhite middle class men, and evolved under the formative influence of patriarchy. See, for example, Keller, E. F.,1985: Reflections on Gender and Science (New Haven: Yale University Press).22laboratory practice . . . scientists actions are highly indeterminate.”40 Wider discourses of race,sex, gender and class also feed in to fundamentally determine the most intimate details of scientificknowledge and practice, and, at the same time, are reproduced and re-articulated through thediscourse of science. Thus, science never does and never could produce an untainted portrait ofreality since it is not independent of wider social and political discourse.Gould seems to move intriguingly towards many of these conclusions in connection to the AIDSscience he discusses, without ever explicitly reflecting back on to his own scientific stance. Heeven conducts his own anthropology of science at a research conference, observing “all too humanrelationships and petty power plays.”4’ Does he expect the impossible: for scientists to be abovethe human? Similarly, observing political manoeuvres at another AIDS research conference helaments “the widespread acceptance of such machinations within communities claiming to be‘scientific’ and putting forward a public image of openness to free inquiry and new ideas. Toofrequently the image is just that - a facade behind which the deliberations bear not the slightest traceof open scientific discussion, but resemble the smoke-filled rooms of a political machine workedby the power of a small caucus.”42 He seems both disappointed and surprised, but the socialconstructionists would argue that he is simply observing all science, including his own, at work.If, as they argue, science is intensely social and thoroughly relativist, any independent means fordiscerning truth or falsity disappear since they are socially perceived rather than inherent to theargument. Science is reduced, in essence, to a series of literary practices: inscription,representation, rhetoric and persuasion. Representation - power-charged, negotiated, embodied,contested and partial - is seen to make up the scientific world, as other worlds, with science as theproduction of, and rhetorical battle over, these representations. It becomes the practice of worldchanging persuasions of the relevant social actors, and Gould saw this process in action at hisconferences.40 The Slow Plague, p.87.41 Ibid., p.143.42 Ibid., p.140.23Woolgar describes many of the techniques used by science to invoke authority and persuade “us”of the truth. For example, the notion of community is invoked by the use of the royal and fictive“we” in scientific literature. The reader is insidiously invited to become part of the existing state ofknowledge, and the author’s role in knowledge production is downgraded. They are not seen tohave any special epistemological vantage point and therefore the statements are not seen as theidiosyncratic production of particular individuals, but a widely recognised state of affairs. “Thediscourse of science is organised in such a way as to sustain and reinforce the objectivity of itsobjects, and systematically to diminish the contrary (constitutive) view.”43 There is thus a widedissonance between the ideological or mythical received view of science, and science as practiced,with the actual practice of science essential in the propagation of this myth - “social constructionistsmake clear that official ideologies about objectivity and scientific method are particularly bad guidesto how scientific knowledge is actually made.” Gould himself can be seen as firmly implicatedin methods of rhetorical persuasion. When discussing the possible origins of HW heacknowledges that science is a rhetorical, though not dishonest, practice, that truth is temporallyrelative and yet can then declare that “all the fingers of evidence point to African origins, and theyare scientific fingers not accusing fingers.”45 He is here relaying and reinforcing the mythic viewof science, all be it in a rather muddled and unreflexive way, when, in fact, evidence suggests thatscientific fingers are quite capable of accusing. More specifically, Gould’s use of the fictive orroyal “we” serves several ideological purposes. It enables him to build a community of readersaround the notion of and view from his supposedly objective geographical and scientific position,disguising his own involvement in the construction of that vision. His agency in the constructionof his viewing platform and the ‘knowledge’ that emanates from that space is downgraded anddisguised. This rhetorical manoeuvre is of particular importance and necessity in Gould’s accountsince he heavily criticises AIDS science, but still attempts to hold to a notion of socially undistortedscience and scientific progress towards truth. In acknowledging the social ‘distortion’ of ‘other’science he offers no explicit epistemological basis to claim purity for his own, hence the need to3 Woolgar, S. 1988: Science: The Very Idea (London :Tavistock Publications), p.79.‘ Haraway, D. 1991: ‘Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of PartialPerspective” in Simians. Cvborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (London: Routledge), p.184.‘ The Slow Plague, pp.10-li.24resort to the despised “other” and inclusive “we”. Unable to distance himself epistemologicallyfrom distorted AIDS science, Gould must establish and sustain a difference both through rhetoric,and the telling and re-telling of the story of distortion-free science, thereby giving his own visionand own geographical story about AIDS its transcendental power.Rhetoric thus serves a particular purpose for Gould. His “we” is a collective subject united by ashared vision. “We” are his public, the ones who are meant to benefit from his geography, andduring the book “we” are all enabled to see like “a geographer.” But this “we” of course entails a“them”, the ones “we” look at and berate, with Gould, as geographers. So who are “they”, theones variously excluded from being a “we” by the geographer’s gaze and Gould’s rhetoric? Badscientists and bureaucrats have already been mentioned, they are firmly the ‘other’, observed by“us” engaging in scientific distortion. To these can be added people living in the Bronx, Africans,Thais and people with AIDS or HIV - the other individuals “we” look at during the course of thebook. Gould’s “public” constituency, which he never explicitly delimits, thus takes shape by aprocess of literary elimination and reveals his notion of “liber geographicus pro bono publico” tobe exceedingly problematic. His public constitute a very specific and limited segment of society.In The Slow Plague, “we” uncomfortably gaze at and objectify “them”. Returning to the Treichlerquotation which launched this chapter, the social constructionist critique therefore helps me (us?)uncover some of the underlying rules and conventions that determine whether an account such asGould’s is held as true or false and examine the ideological effects of these conventions and truthclaims. And, of course, it too runs into the same paradox as Gould.In this very literal reading of The Slow Plague, Gould therefore does not seem to negotiate thisparadox at all. Instead, it seems as if he stumbles blindly through it, since, at one and the sametime, he acknowledges science as social, heavily criticises existing AIDS science and then neverexplicitly reflects upon the implications of these assertions and criticisms for his own scientificvisions. He thus appears unreflexive in the extreme. And, if the conclusions of the above socialconstructionist critique are accepted, Gould is seen to have no grounds on which to discriminate ordistance his own science from the AIDS science he observes anyway, and to be unavoidably25implicated in many of the same practices - some of which seem rather dubious - which are carriedout in order to sustain the scientific power of his visions.Enlightenment Inheritors: Gould and HabermasGould’s failure to explicitly confront this paradox in his text is perhaps the central flaw in TheSlow Plague. But it is possible to give his negotiations another, distinctly different reading bydrawing on work he has published elsewhere and by assembling the glimpses of a grander projectfrom the subtext of The Slow Plague itself. In this new light, The Slow Plague reveals itself to bea particularly noble piece of work - still deeply flawed, as I shall discuss later - but a piece of workthat does, in its own way, attempt to negotiate this paradox implicitly. Elsewhere, Gouldrecognises the philosophical influence that the work of Habermas has had on him and thisinfluence seems to manifest itself forcefully, though never explicitly, within The Slow Plague.46Habermas’ work is centrally grounded in the anticipation and justification of a better world society- one that affords happiness, peace and community - and he shares this aim with Gould who, in“Spaces of Misrepresentation”, describes himself as an “old-fashioned Enlightenment inheritor”The Slow Plague is itself a manifestation of this urge to make things better - a geographical bookfor the intended general public good. Habermas believes that the better society is a more rationalone and he therefore wishes to put reason and rationality back into the knowing subject. Inseeking a renewal and regeneration of the Enlightenment project, he is endeavouring to release,enable and utilise suppressed traces of Reason to provide a grounding for a more democratic andequitable society.4846 Gould, P. 1982: “Is it necessary to choose? Some technical, hermeneutic and emancipatory thoughts on inquiry”in Gould P and Olsson G (eds.), A Search for Common Ground (London: Pion Ltd), pp.71-104.“ Gould, P., 1994: ‘Spaces of Misrepresentation’ in Farinelli, F. et all (eds.), Limits of Representation, Studies ofAction and Organisation Vol.5, (New York: The Institute of Mind and Behavior), p.129.48 Aronowitz, S. 1988: Science as Power: Discourse and Ideology in Modern Society (Minneapolis: University ofMinnesota Press); Habermas, J. 1972: Knowledge and Human Interests, trans. Shapiro, J. (London: Heinemann);Habermas, J. 1979: Communication and the Evolution of Society (Boston: Beacon Press).26So Habermas is seeking a philosophical and societal pathway back to reason, but not through theexplicit route of science. Instead, his is a postindustrial theory of communication that seeks toaddress the problems of social relations through language. His central presupposition is that weare all born with universal communication skills and with the potential to use them to create a bettersociety. With these universal communication skills, he believes, comes a universal interest -mutual understanding - and this urge or tendency lies latent in language and, more specifically, ininteractive communication. By this schema, we are all bound together by a drive towards mutualcomprehension and an urge to distinguish between power and truth. He states, “No matter howthe intersubjectivity of mutual understanding may be deformed, the design of an ideal speechsituation is necessarily implied in the structure of potential speech, since all speech, even ofintentional deception, is oriented towards the idea of truth.”49 Habermas therefore believes thatrationality and irrationality are manifest in ordinary social interaction and it is to this interaction heturns in an attempt to enable the regeneration of the former, arguing that the ultimate limits ofpolitical contestation and change in advanced capitalist societies are to be found in what has tooprematurely been given up as the formless morass of ordinary social interaction.However, though this tendency towards truth and rationality lies within communication, Habermasfeels that it is yet to be fully realised. Modernisation, development, education and social mobilityhave not brought rationality and emancipation, instead they have brought, to Habermas’ eye, adeepening irrationality evidenced by the manipulation of public opinion through the mass media,the forced articulation of social needs through large organisations, and the management of politicsby the bureaucratic and technocratic ‘system’. In essence, power and capital block the potential forcommunicatively achieved agreement at the social-structural level and act to repress communicationthat is free of domination. Communication has, he argues, been systematically distorted and thisdistortion in turn points back to the existence of systematically distorted social structures. Hence,the rise of mass democracy and increased affluence have, ironically, coincided with theconcomitant degradation of the public sphere. The above distortionary tendencies of money and49 Habermas, J. 1970: “Towards a Theory of Communicative Competence” in Inquiry 13, p.372.27power are seen to be dissolving the residues of the public sphere and yet it is in this sphere thatHabermas sees a key possibility for renewed emancipatory rationalization and democratization.A revitalized public sphere is the vessel through which the emancipatory and rational potential ofspeech and communication can be liberated and realised since it forms a realm of our social life inwhich something approaching public opinion can be formed, allowing individuals to learn andconfer in relatively unrestricted fashion. According to Habermas, this sphere can therefore enablethe progressive institutionalisation of the claims of reason against arbitrary power since within thisrealm, speech is seen as remaining unconditionally free from domination. Habermas’ ultimate aimis, therefore, a utopia through communicative action, reconstituting political and social life on thisbasis rather than upon economic production. He is thus seeking the formal ideal of a situation inwhich disagreements and conflicts are rationally resolved through a mode of communication whichis completely free of compulsion and in which only the force of the better argument may prevail. Aregenerated public sphere would build emancipatory potential and be a progressive step towardsthis ideal. Within this schema, science itself becomes a marginal but extremely useful activity. Itwould assume, according to Habermas, its proper subordinate place as one of the accomplishmentsof reason, a tool simply generative of reliable knowledge, rather than a dangerously powerful signof the conflation of knowledge and truth itself.This is, admittedly but necessarily, a gross oversimplification of Habermas’ work. Nevertheless,the implications for Gould’s efforts in The Slow Plague are striking. His project is granted anexplicitly moralistic foundation and seems to represent a deliberate, methodical and remarkablywell-intentioned effort to intervene in the communicative reproduction of society, focussingparticularly on the discursive nexus of AIDS. This intervention is his liber geographicus pro bonopublico, which he proffers to the public sphere, perhaps in the hope that, in a small way, it willenable the partial reinstatement of rational and reasoned discussion on this topic. He is attemptingto make a claim of and for reason.28This claim of reason is made against the systematically distorted communications and underlyingsocial structures that, he believes, constitute much existing AIDS science. Therefore, it is not thatthis science is merely social - Gould would perhaps recognise this - it is that it is systematicallysocially distorted by money and power. So, for example, Gould argues that “bureaucratic power,combined with a deadly combination of Establishment ignorance and arrogance, suppressed anyconsideration of the spatial dimensions of the epidemic.”5°And, “To place this problem in a largercontext, what we have is a particular instance of a much more general problem at the boundarybetween the scientific community and the general public, a public much more astute and well-educated than many believe, but nevertheless one often cowed by the mathematizing mystique oftechnical claims. In our modem world of almost unbearable technical complexity we seem obligedto leave more and more decisions to ‘them’ - the experts and consultants.”51 He believes that these“experts and consulants” are all too often greedy and self-seeking, driven purely by the desire formoney and power, serving on committees, attending conferences and producing reports to pretendthat something is being done about the epidemic but actually building “networks of power”, thepower to allocate money.52Gould’s comments, combined with the others on the same topic quoted earlier, form a starklyHabermasian reading of the ills surrounding and enveloping the societal response to the AIDSpandemic. Gould’s positioning of AIDS science is therefore both typification and emblematic ofthe apparent wider degradation of the public sphere through the rise of a technocraticconsciousness and the subsequent systematic distortion of public communications.53 Thissystematic structural and communicative distortion has, he believes, left “reasoned discussion withno place to go.”54 Not quite “no place” though, since he seeks to reinstate this form ofcommunication in his own text and therefore combat this observed distortion in a resolutely50 The Slow Plague, p.137.51 Ibid., p.14-0.52 Ibid., p.138.Gould provides a very similarly Habermasian reading of the social in Fire in the Rain. He is highly dismissiveof the bureaucratic and governmental management of the Chernobyl disaster and laments the numbing effect thatbureaucracy has on individual initiative and the deceit, dissimulation, contempt for the public and outright lying that,he argues, frequently characterizes supposedly democratic government.The Slow Plague, p.108.29Habermasian manner. Gould’s supposedly ‘rational’ communication - The Slow Plague - isperhaps proffered to the residue of the public sphere with the intention of allowing the reader toaffirm a larger rational control over the complexes of ‘systematically distorted’ perceptions Gouldhimself documents, allowing critical reflection upon them and enabling open, rational and reasoneddiscussion. He would perhaps see his text as free from compulsion and he is, instead, merelytrying to assemble a sound and reasonable argument for “us” to reflect upon. These motivationsare evidenced by his statement at the end of the text: “I happen to like that word ‘communication.’and often reflect upon its roots in corn munus - ‘with offering.’ At the etymological heart ofcommunication lies a sharing of gifts.”55This “sharing” marks Gould’s project as particularly noble. He is driven by a strong convictionthat the situation can and must be made better and he also shows a welcome and firm faith in theabilities of ordinary people, the public, to decide and act reasonably and rationally for themselvesonce they are allowed space for coercion-free communication and understanding. Like Habermashis work is therefore rooted in the possibilities of mutual understanding through language ingeneral, and, more specifically, communicative action in the public sphere. His belief in thepopular discursive responsibilities of the academic within this sphere, which he backs up withaction - witness The Slow Plague and Fire in the Rain - is also to be commended. But the ultimateproof of his project still remains the degree to which it can negotiate the paradox described earlier.In one sense, this paradox is negated by a Habermasian reading of Gould’s work, since it shiftsthe emphasis from Gould’s science to his communication and therefore admits the previous socialconstructionist critique [although this is, of course, hardly evident to the lay reader of the text,which still seems to be fractured by the stark contrast, not reflected upon by Gould, betweendistorted AIDS science and his ‘better’ geographical science.1 As Gould himself concedeselsewhere, “what we would perhaps call science today is essentially telling a good story.”56 ButGould must then still demonstrate that his own scientific story sidesteps the negative effects of theIbid., p.206.56 Gould, P. 1982: “Is it necessary to choose? Some technical, hermeneutic and emancipatory thoughts on inquiry”in Gould P and Olsson G (eds.), A Search for Common Ground (London: Pion Ltd), p.72.30distorted science he documents. Is the ‘rational’ geographical science he proffers a ‘better’narrative?Rouse, drawing on Foucault, would perhaps suggest not, since Gould posits a situation wherepeople face each other free of force and engage in interaction and rational exchange ofknowledge.57 Rouse’s work points to the sheer impossibility of this situation. He examines theseemingly inextricable link between knowledge, power and rationality and therefore highlights theapparently inconceivable notion of a scientific knowledge innocent of power. If accepted, thislinkage entails that what counts as knowledge in society is unavoidably entwined with domination,exposing ‘emancipation through deepened rationality’ as a contradiction in terms. As described,the social constructionists focus on science as social construction. Rouse also examines the socialand political construction carried out by this socially constructed science. He observes that “theworld is increasingly a made world” as a result of the systematic extension of technical capacities,the equipment they employ and the phenomena they manifest.58 He argues that the scientificlaboratory, populated as it may be by Latour and Woolgar’s intrinsically messy social beings, outsfrom within - practices, equipment and capacities swarm out from these centres or disciplinaryblocks into the social body politic and transform our hold on the world, materially andconceptually, by extending calculative control. These scientific activities, again perhapsintrinsically messy, are nevertheless of immense political and social significance. Rouse’s projectis thus to understand science in terms of its capillary power effects and to integrate power andknowledge in a reinterpretation of the political significance of the social practices that constitute themodern natural sciences. His work adds a useful new dimension to the social constructionistreading of science and also has implications for Habermas’, and, therefore, Gould’s argument: ifpower does not merely impinge on ‘rational’ science from without, but permeates it and traversesits very practices, it cannot then be expelled, by sound method, reasoned and open discussion andwill-power, as Gould envisages. As a “scientist” Gould is also centrally implicated in the57 Rouse, J., 1987: Knowledge and Power: Toward a Political Philosophy of Science (Ithaca: Cornell UniversityPress).58 Ibid., p.211.31swarming of power outwards into the social body, through his books, papers and cartographicmodelling. His maps of spatial distribution, in particular, can be seen as functioning as powerrelations, both physically and conceptually - they act to group, enclose, separate and partition,enabling surveillance. The representations, classifications and distributions he produces thusprovide ways for people to understand themselves and to act. His science is therefore not justpolitical through its attempted intervention in the AIDS discourse, it is political to its capillaries.Gould displays a marked reluctance to accept both this intrinsically political nature of scientificknowledge and its interlinked corollary, the apparently ineluctable nature of political and otherdifference. So, when discussing the possible origins of H1V in Africa he remarks that “the storymay anger and embarrass some because they find it politically unacceptable.”59 The simple fact isthat to some, the story is politically unacceptable because it is, as I shall discuss, an intrinsicallyand unavoidably politicised narrative. Similarly, when discussing the possibility of establishing aHIV pilot study in Washington D.C., he reports on the outrage among “local, predominantly blackpoliticians” who claimed that the city had been picked out in a “gross act of racial discrimination.”Gould declares, “The fact that the charges were nonsense from any reasonable and scientific viewwas not of the slightest importance compared to the political heat and capital to be made out ofthem.”60 Again, this “reasonable and scientific view” is one that is also intrinsically political andsoaked in power to its capillaries. If this reading is accepted, Gould’s own scientific andgeographical knowledge is not merely potentially distorted by power, it is power, and thereforepolitical, to its very roots. To further my analysis of Gould’s scientific narrative, it is thereforenecessary to examine how, and with what possible effects, these implications are manifest in thesupposedly “reasonable and scientific view” Gould proffers from the platform of his explicitlyvisual geographical science.Vision and Geography: Telling Necessary FictionsThe Slow Plague, p.133.60 Ibid., p.142.32Gregory states that “geography (like cartography) has always been a thoroughly practical anddeeply politicized discourse, and it continues to be marked by its origins.”6’ Geography is not,and never has been, the production site for untainted visual knowledge of the social. Neither isthere, as Gould seems to suggest, a singular perspective within geography. To argue this is toconflate significant academic difference and efface much work in a discipline coming to gradualterms with the situated nature of knowledge and vision. Gould argues that his particularly visualgeography offers AIDS research the gift of sight and an opening of eyes to space and place. But ifscience and the social are one and the same and scientific knowledge is itself seen as embroiled in,and generative of, specific political relations and constellations of power, this vision, thoughpresented as objective, becomes intrinsically socially, politically, culturally and personally situated.Gould’s viewing platform is revealed as exactly that - his platform - and not as scientificgeography’s unproblematic, apolitical and undistorted view down onto the social.Gould’s geography is positively pock-marked by its origins, placing him firmly within, notwithout, a deeply politicised discourse relying on a visual method similarly marked. Gregorydescribes geography’s “ocularcentrism: its characteristically visual appropriation of the world”62and Gould’s work represents a continuation, perhaps almost an hypostatisation, of this trend. Oneof geography’s roots is as distinctly European and Eurocentric science, thoroughly entwined withthe colonial project. Just as Gould offers vision to AIDS science, this earlier geography offeredvision to assist in processes of acquisition, subjugation and surveillance of space. Gould too looksacross Africa, surveying an AIDS-scape rather than a landscape, but offering “us” a vision and aconstructed space, a fictional picture of the social disguised as “reality” which draws on and maygive rise to a dangerous profusion of attitudes, beliefs, meanings and actions. The parallel may notbe exact, but the lesson to be learnt is that vision is not and never has been either neutral ortransparent. It is intensely political. Another of Gould’s antecedents, spatial science, saw thegeographer as again “constituted as spectator-scientist.”63 He is thus working within a discursive61 Gregory, D. 1994: Geographical Imaginations (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers), p.8.62 Ibid., p.16.63 Ibid., p.203.33space flooded by politics and power and his attempt to distance and dislocate his own knowledgefrom this politicised context is merely a “scientific” rhetorical manoeuvre. The vision he privilegesand proffers from this position is therefore also deeply political, deeply rooted within, and deeplyimplicated in particular constellations of power, despite its pretence to objectivity and neutrality.The eye is never neutral, not a privileged medium of knowledge nor an innocent instrument.More than any other sense the eye objectifies and masters. Gould’s preferred way of seeingestablishes a binary opposition between subject and object, renders the subject transcendental, theobject inert, and so underpins an entire regime of knowledge as mastery - he assumes the ultimatevisibility and knowability of an autonomous reality. This way of seeing and knowing is far fromharmless, as Gould himself recognises in his brief discussion of objectification. Uncriticallydeployed, it results in people as silent and mastered objects of knowledge. “The granting ofautonomous existences to objects of knowledge by setting aside any consideration of subject-objector discourse-object relations establishes the illusory basis of the subject’s coherence, authority, anduniqueness.”64 Thus, “the detached eye of objective science is an ideological fiction, and apowerful one. But it is a fiction that hides - and is designed to hide - how the powerful discoursesof the natural sciences work.”65 As Gregory notes, Haraway challenges this “modemdecorporealization of vision, which she describes in resonantly Foucauldian terms as the gaze that‘mythically inscribes all the marked bodies, that makes the unmarked claim the power to see andnot be seen, to represent while escaping representation.”66Gould’s geographical and scientific knowledge is produced through vision by supposedlywithdrawing from society and claiming an exterior position, where the world will becomeintelligible. In his text, Gould constructs a fictive-we (an imaginary community - who do not haveAIDS or live in the places he talks about), binding “us” all into seeing from a specific socialposition that is fictively construed as objective and universal, a privileged and protected vantage64 Deutsche, R. 1991: “Boys Town”, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 9, p.12.65 Haraway, D. 1989: Primate Visions: Gender. Race and Nature in the World of Modern Science (New York:Routledge), p.13.66 Gregory, D. 1994: Geographical Imaginations (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers), p.65 citing Haraway, D. 1991:“Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective” in Simians.Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (London: Routledge), p.188.34point or viewing platform for “us” to observe his cartographies and imaginary geographies,produced by an eye enhanced by visualizing technology. As a result, in his maps of the US “wecan see the tragedy unfold . . . we can see the effects of hierarchical and spatially contagiousdiffusions right before our eyes.”67 Truth in this system depends on the establishment of a fictivedistance between observer and observed, where space and the social offers itself up as order andpattern to be dis-covered and re-presented, hiding the intricate processes of construction that havegenerated these patterns and disguising the political implications emanating from this way oflooking.Truth here thus depends on the ideological deployment of “a rhetoric of concealment.”68 It restson the telling and re-telling of a series of stories: about geography as the epitome of disinterestedscience despite evidence of a deeply politicised discipline; about a viewing platform purporting toprovide a free gaze down upon the social that is actually a specific, situated, constructed andpower-laden view from a social ‘somewhere’, allowing one to see and not be seen, to representand not be represented; about a neutral and unproblematic visual method that is central to amasterful and dangerous system of knowing through silencing and objectification; and finallyabout patterns and order innocently revealed to the eye that can only emerge as such once all theabove stories have been told.The above are all necessary fictions in Gould’s work and they perhaps indicate why he reads theAIDS science he sees as socially distorted rather than irrevocably politicised and power-laden. Tofollow the latter course would be to deconstruct his own geographical and scientific stance andimpugn the specific spatialisations and visualisations of HIV and AIDS advanced from thisposition, revealing them to be intricate social constructions, situated within a distinct set of socialand cultural relations inextricably linked to power and possible domination, but cloaked ordisguised by an interlinked “scientific” ideology and rhetoric.67 The Slow Plague, p.110.68 Gregory, D. 1994: Geographical Imaginations (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers), p.65.35Gould’s Spatialisation of HIV and AIDS: Cutting the ClothGregory describes spatialisation as the way that social life literally, materially and physically “takesplace.”69 In The Slow Plague AIDS “takes place” as traffic across a backcloth. However, thismetaphor and the mathematical modelling that give rise to it detract attention from the manner inwhich AIDS actually “takes place” - as, literally, fluid process. The backcloth metaphor and modelspatialise a disease that is not transmitted through space per Se. It is only the ‘downstream’ effectsof the spread of HIV and AIDS that are manifest spatially - the momentary location of bodiescarrying the virus within Cartesian space. The backcloth model turns attention from questions ofprocess, safe and unsafe sex, sexual ideology and pressure, and acts of fluid transfer to the virusas agent and focus of attention, travelling on cloth! No metaphor can provide total, unmediatedvision of the social. Rather, metaphors are enframing devices that make the world knowable in aparticular way, thus precluding other ways of knowing that world. Gould’s spatial metaphorenables (all research is done from some point of view), but it also constrains (some questions arenecessarily bracketed out by the metaphor in order to answer others), controls his vision andpatterns his way of knowing.70Eyam is a small village in the Derbyshire Peak District in England. In 1665, George Viccars thevillage tailor ordered several rolls of cloth from his supplier in London, where the plague wasraging. The cloth arrived damp and was spread out to dry, releasing plague-infested fleas in thevillage. Within days Viccars fell ill and died, others quickly followed. The Rector, fearing that theinfection would spread widely through the county asked the villagers to quarantine themselves.They agreed to do so. People from the surrounding area left food and supplies at specified pointsaround the village boundary, allowing the village to go into voluntary isolation. The plague lasted14 months and 259 out of 350 people in the village died, but a wider bubonic outbreak was69 Ibid., p.104.70 Barnes, T. J. 1992: “Reading the Texts of Theoretical Economic Geography: The role of physical and biologicalmetaphors” in Barnes, T. J. and Duncan, J. S. (eds), Writing Worlds: discourse, text and metaphor in therepresentation of landscape (London: Routledge), p.134.36prevented.7’ This plague spread on cloth. AIDS does not. Gould’s spatialisation of HIV andAIDS is intensely misleading and, though perhaps of use for resource planning and educationdelivery where broad information about individual location is required, carries many moredangerous connotations that Gould neglects to consider.Firstly, despite attempting to circumvent the dangers of objectification with rhetoric, Gould moveson to objectify those individuals with HIV and AIDS, masters and silences people as part of abackcloth, and unproblematically offers up social space for visual consumption, revealing aconstructed meaning and neglecting those ‘on the ground’ who might wish to contest that meaningor their role in his patterns and order. He cannot avoid these dangers of objectification - they areintrinsic to his spatial scientific method and conception of visual and scientific geography. Hiswork depends heavily on “the abstract coldness of the perspectival gaze” and thus a “withdrawal ofemotional entanglement with the objects” he is dealing with.72 He sculpts those who have died ofAIDS in the Bronx into “a geographical portrait of human catastrophe. . . the rising Western Ridgehas now become a north-south wall of death overlooking Burnout Valley, across which you cansee inselbergs (isolated mountains) of dead people piling up to the north, east and south.”73 ThisAIDS-scape is presumably constructed to shock, but the mastery implicit in the scaping andscoping is disconcerting in other ways. There is no challenge to “our” gaze in this book, no voicesarise from the objects “we” look at. Rhetoric, where Gould describes the dangers of becomingnumb at these figures, rates and maps and reminds us that they represent dying people, cannot putpeople back in the ‘picture’ when they have been excluded by his method for 130 pages.74 Toopen his visions to real contestation would be to downgrade their supposedly “scientific” worth.71 Clifford, J. G. 1989: Eyam Plague (Eyam Parish publication, England).72 The quotation is taken from Jay, M. 1988: “Scopic regimes of modernity”, in Vision and Visuality, Dia ArtFoundation Discussions in Contemporary Culture 2, (Seattle: Bay Press), p.8. This particular criticism of Gould’swork in The Slow Plague echoes almost exactly the humanistic critique of spatial science that took place ingeography in the 1970s, a critique that, incidentally, also drew upon an interest in the social construction ofknowledge. It appears that Gould has not absorbed the lessons that can be garnered from this debate.The Slow Plague, p.133.‘ Ibid., p.134.37Secondly, Gould’s spatialisation of AIDS, rather than dramatically increasing understanding of theepidemic as he argues, actually confuses. This is because Gould’s choice of metaphor or modelturns AIDS into a primarily spatial phenomenon. It is not; some of its effects are simply manifestthat way. To represent AIDS as spatial, through surrogates like Gould’s backcloth model, is todeflect attention from person-to-person processes of virus transmission, and to mislead the reader.To return to Gould’s two modes of diffusion, one does not get AIDS through proximity. It is notspatially contagious. And one does not get AIDS from occupying a certain position in a hierarchy.Gould states that “two, rather isolated rural counties far apart on the conventional map wouldinteract very little, which translates into an extremely small probability that the HIV would betransmitted this way on our Ohio county backcloth.”75 Here distance is substituted for fluidtransfer and rural counties become sexual partners. This expressed spatialisation seems bothspurious and distracting. Elsewhere Gould writes “imagine yourself now in the center of AIDSspace blowing a big soap bubble around Cleveland . . . Perhaps the HIV spreads in this way,slowly capturing the counties in AIDS space until the multiple bubbles reach those on the peripheryand the infection is everywhere.”76Having read this I would keep my windows shut if I lived inthe Cleveland suburbs! The point is glibly made but underlines the fact that AIDS is not aboutwhere you live or who you are, it is solely about your specific actions. Gould’s spatial modeldetracts from this fundamental point and misleads.Thirdly, if AIDS is misleadingly understood as primarily spatial, one is insidiously pointed in thedirection of spatial solutions to the spread of the epidemic: by Gould’s theorisation of the epidemicone has to fragment the backcloth to stop disease, and this leads to him talking rather ominously of“disconnecting” people.77 His use of the fictive-we, when linked to this spatialisation, now takeson rather sinister undertones. When discussing the Bronx he states that “whether the politiciansliked the truth or not, HIV was shotgunned over the city as a result of pulling the rug of fire andpolice services out from under the very people who needed them most”[my italics].78 This is a‘ Ibid., p.65.76 Ibid., p.67.‘ Ibid., p.189.78 Ibid., p.132.38truly amazing statement - he rightly attacks political neglect of the area, but at the same time seemsto advocate spatial concentration or confinement as a solution to the spread of the AIDS epidemic,like the villagers of Eyam, thus preventing the ‘disease’ breaching the barricades and sneaking in to‘normal’ society - “US” This view is given rather sinister weight by the violence implicit in theterm “shotgunned”. Here, people who are HIV-positive become dangerous gunshot! But, toreiterate, it is not spatial location that causes the spread of 11W. An emphasis on individual people,processes, attitudes and beliefs disappears in this particular view down upon the social. Solutionsthus become something decided upon at the grand scale too, as ways of fragmenting the backcloth.Structure breakers are discussed on a state, country or continent-wide scale, rather than as needingto be culturally embedded and socially contextualised. I do not wish to infer that Peter Gouldintends his work to contribute to authoritarian grand-scale spatial ‘solutions’ to the AIDS epidemic- he seems thoroughly committed and well-meaning. But the implications of the spatialisations heproffers do not simply lie with better education, they are potentially far more serious than this andpossibly injurious to personal freedom.Fourthly and finally, Gould neglects to consider the geography of blame. He is siting AIDS withinsome areas and not others, and yet the only time he discusses the issue of possible stigmatisation iswhen he weakly declares that “no on should blame someone else for the arrival of a newdisease.”79 He seems to believe that he can dislocate his work from the social and political as andwhen he chooses, slipping out from under a great weight of historical evidence which suggests thatblame will be attached to his spatialisations. This urge to blame others for AIDS, and locate itsorigin within the body or land of another, is a response to disease that dates back to the MiddleAges. “We need to locate the origin of a disease, since its source, always distant from ourselves inthe fantasy land of our fears, gives us assurance that we are not at fault, that we have been invadedfrom without, that we have been polluted by some external agents.”8°Given these almost endemic‘ Ibid., p.12.80 Gilman, S. 1988: Disease and Representation: Images of Illness from Madness to AIDS (Cornell: CornellUniversity Press), p.262. Gilman argues that geographies of blame serve an essential psychological function since‘othering the disease distances it and assures ‘us’ that ‘we’ are not at fault and have been invaded from without,polluted by an external agent.39mechanisms of blaming, what effect will Gould’s statements about the Bronx have on attitudes tothe area and its people? Early epidemiological classification of HIV risk groups led to massivestigmatisation and stereotyping, particularly of Haitians in the US, so why should an arealtreatment, of what are, in essence, risk areas, produce different, more positive results? Gould maybelieve that because he is producing his work within a supposedly rational, reasonable and neutralscientific space it will not be used for popular stigmatisations and speculations, but he cannotchoose to dislocate from the socially messy and morally reprehensible geography of blame. Hisspatial approach and the popular nature of his book may actually fuel the stigmatisation process.Gould does not seem to have considered the many negatives that arise from his spatialisation of theAIDS epidemic - his geography and the knowledge produced therein does not link solely andconsciously to the public good. This almost naive lack of consideration of the downstreampolitical implications of his work perhaps accounts for his curious chapter on the geography ofconfidentiality. He seems vaguely surprised by the fact that “as soon as you start asking questionsabout the geography of the epidemic, the “where” questions, then great anxiety is felt by thepowerful guardians of medical trust. . . the answer to high anxiety and a lack of experience isalways “better safe than sorry” - always the response of the timid bureaucrat.”81 In this case,thank goodness for timid bureaucrats, aware that answering the “where” question does not simplyresult in better informed inputs to both health planning and education, as Gould requires, but mayalso lead to extreme levels of surveillance, and subsequent stigmatisation and victimisation. It isalso not simply a question of protecting individual identities as Gould seems to suggest, sincestigmatisation and victimisation can feed on much coarser areal data than this. One can beidentified by association with a space and persecuted accordingly whether one is sero-positive ornot.81 The Slow Plague, p.169.40Gould’s Visualisation of HIV and AIDS: Metaphors and Maps BeforeOur Very EyesHaving spatialised HIV and AIDS in the above manner, Gould uses visualisation methods topresent his constructed visions before us. He draws particularly on cartography and visualmetaphor to describe what can be seen from the viewing platform offered by his geographicalscience.A deconstruction of Gould’s cartography in The Slow Plague is beyond the scope of this essay.However, broadly the same critique can be levelled at cartography as at Gould’s mythicgeographical science. Both involve a similar mode of seeing and knowing, and both are, despitethe telling of stories that suggest otherwise, irrevocably situated in the social, and entwined in apolitics of power/knowledge. Neither produces value nor ideology-free information, but theyoperate behind a mask of seemingly neutral science and gain much of their power this way. Gouldstates that his maps put “facts before our eyes”82 but his representations are not innocentreflections of reality. “It has become apparent that mapping is necessarily situated, embodied,partial: like all other practices of representation.”83 Gould’s maps, like his view from the platformof geographical science, are socially situated and thus socially and culturally emblematic, relyingon and drawing on a whole host of social presuppositions. Harley makes the point therefore that“cartographic facts are only facts within a specific cultural context.”84 But Gould’s maps arepotentially formative too - they can act as “rhetorical devices of persuasion.”85 They possess theinherent ability to define and re-define social relationships, alter and shape attitudes, meanings andbeliefs, and perhaps ultimately give rise to actions. Power thus both comes from the map andembraces its making. Gould’s presentation of cartography as facts before our eyes neglects theabove critique and the socially formative power he wields with his maps. He hopes that hisautomated cartographic diffusion programs will act as powerful awareness-raising and educational82 Ibid., p.114.83 Gregory, D. 1994: Geographical Imaginations (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers), p.7.84 Harley, J. B. 1992: “Deconstructing the map’, in Barnes, T. J. and Duncan, J. (eds.), Writing Worlds: Discourse.text and metaphor in the representation of landscape (London: Routledge), p.233.85 Livingstone, D. N. 1992: The Geographical Tradition: Episodes in the History of a Contested Enterprise (Oxford:Blackwell Publisher), p.29.41tools. They demonstrate the slow, steady progression of the epidemic across space, showing itsgradual encroachment upon the individual’s daily life. Gould contends that “something has to bedone to make the epidemic concrete, real, and personal, not simply something ‘out there,’ distantand remote from an individual’s daily life” in order to force people to reflect upon the possibility oftheir own personal danger.86 However, what Gould’s cartography cannot do alone is overcomethe social distance within the places he maps and within his maps of these places. Thus, they mayreinforce existing geographies of blame and give rise to hostility to those stereotypically assumedto be carrying the HIV, who are then seen as encroaching upon or moving upon the boundaries ofAIDS-free space. This ‘citadel’ effect is further compounded by the epistemological distancing,objectifying and viral ‘othering’ upon which Gould’s cartography is founded. The viewer isplaced outside the space where the virus moves. “We” never enter the spaces or places whereAIDS diffuses and moves. We merely look at them from above and outside. This epistemologicaltendency therefore runs counter to Gould’s personalising intentions. For example, using black torepresent the highest spatial rates of HIV infection leads him to clumsily open his chapter on theBronx with the following: “In the United States the HIV is everywhere, oozing from the highpeaks of infection in the urban epicenters into the surrounding commuter fields and rural umlands,closing up the last empty pockets of white, infection-free areas on the map” [my italics].87 Whatare readers meant to think and do after reading this sentence? How will it affect their attitudes andbeliefs, in relation to specific spaces and places, other people and their own sexual behaviour?This one sentence seems to me to be a crystallisation of the flaws inherent in Gould’s unreflexivegeographical and scientific interpretation of AIDS. It includes: an objectifying and silencing viewdown across space; a grossly misleading spatialisation and visualisation of HIV and its spread; andan insensitive neglect of both the socially and politically situated nature and possible impact of suchmodes of seeing, knowing and representation.86 Gould, P. 1991: “Modelling the geographic spread of AIDS for educational intervention” in Ulack, R. andSkinner, W. F. (eds.), AIDS and the Social Sciences (Lexington: University of Kentucky), pp.37-38.87 The Slow Plague, p.124.42The above example illustrates Gould’s use of visual metaphor to describe the diffusion patterns hesees from his viewing platform. Metaphors, like maps, are far from innocent representations ormimetic reflections of a reality.88 They are instrumental to knowledge creation, and can activelyconstruct or shape a world view. I have already examined Gould’s fundamental metaphor, hisbackcloth model, demonstrating how it leads to a surrogate understanding of the spread of HIVand AIDS as primarily spatial, detracting attention from ‘fluid’ social process and behaviour. Thismisunderstanding is further compounded and intensified by the use of many other explicitlyspatial, natural and physical geographical metaphors and similes to describe the spread of HIV andAIDS. These include [my italicsl: disease spreading “like a wine stain on a tablecloth”89;“highlyinfected regional epicenters driving the seepage of the virus into the surrounding umlands”90;“soaring peaks driving. . . geographic diffusion”91;“advancing waves of spatial contagion.throwing out pools of infection ahead of them, pools that will grow and coalesce”92;and “a forestfire advancing steadily, but throwing out sparks ahead of the main burning to start localconflagrations.”93 There is nothing universal or neutral about these visualisations, despite Gould’sclaims to see otherwise. These visualisations are situated, emanating from the mind of a traditionalgeographer who can only make sense of AIDS using the models and metaphors he has to hand. Inall these examples Gould naturalises the spread of liv, placing agency within the virus - asinfected urban area driving , and wave or fire throwing - and removing agency from people. Bythis metaphorical schema political processes and human events become natural processes - humanrelations are thus naturalised. A dangerous slippage has occurred here: from space as extrinsicmanifestation of AIDS to space as driving determinant of the epidemic. There is a crushinginevitability to his visions; how can one possibly turn back a disease represented as tide or fire, sowhy bother? I do not wish to deny the seriousness of the challenge offered by AIDS, but the88 “Metaphors are not mere ornamentation or decoration. . . but are central in formulating the problem and finding asolution.” Barnes, T. J. 1992: “Reading the Texts of Theoretical Economic Geography: The role of physical andbiological metaphors” in Barnes, T. J. and Duncan, J. S. (eds), Writing Worlds: discourse. text and metaphor in therepresentation of landscape (London: Routledge), p.121.89 The Slow Plague, p.62.90 Ibid., p.83.91 Ibid., p.125.92 Ibid., p.122.Ibid., p.122.43challenge is a social and embodied one. I feel that Gould’s spatialisation of AIDS and HIV, whencombined with the above visualisations, configures and conceptualises AIDS as a primarily anddeterminedly large-scale geographical phenomenonlproblem which distorts and detracts from anunderstanding of AIDS as an intensely personal and social issue, demanding adjustment,negotiation and solutions on this level.94Seeing Place Through a Zoom LensGould does attempt to introduce a small-scale conceptualisation of the social into his work throughthe notion of place, but the manner in which he develops the notion fails to redress the aboveimbalance. He calls for a greater attention to the specificity of place in response to the spatialblindness of those working in the temporal AIDS research paradigm, and uses this notion as ameans for contextualising his large-scale spatialisations of 11W infection. He switchesgeographical lenses and zooms in to focus on specific social, cultural or political factors that will,he believes, account for trends in the larger patterns of infection. However, in undertaking thismanoeuvre he never leaves the epistemological viewing platform and his treatment of place istherefore a continuation of his earlier looking at and objectification, with similar unfortunateresults. He may be focussing on specific areas and cultures but he is still seizing and transforming“others” by the very act of conceptualising, inscribing and interacting with them on terms not oftheir choosing: in making them into pliant objects and silent subjects of his scripts and scenarios; inGould’s extraordinary use of numerical, literary and geographical metaphors to frame the spread of HIV and AIDScould generate a whole critical paper in itself. Of necessity I confine myself to broad criticisms of his approach here.It is interesting to briefly compare Gould’s metaphorical system - of HIV as spatialised and naturalised wave or fire -to the dominant scientific metaphorical system - HIV as virus. The former places agency within space rather thanpeople and presents the spread of HIV as inexorable. It also points the way to solutions imposed at a grand scale.The latter system does act to impersonalise the illness, but at least frames prevention as an individual andbehavioural issue. I believe Gould’s metaphorical systems are thus very limited, and potentially dangerous, models.There is, however, a further set of problems with his choice of metaphor. He relies upon powerful images drawnfrom the natural and physical sciences. As I argued above, this framing acts to naturalise human relation. It alsotriggers an immense amount of negative and sinister associations and carries a similar weight of dangerousconnotations. Metaphors are not innocent and they can easily escape their author. Gould therefore cannot simplywipe his metaphors clean of old associations and lay them before the reader. The reader is likely to feel hopelessafter confronting the crushing inevitability of Gould’s visions. Theweleit argues that it is therefore a reactionaryimpulse to describe political processes and human events as natural processes, and he goes on to examine metaphorsof floods, tides and fires and their immensely political function within the personal writings of the Freikorps. Whenthis reactionary naturalisation is combined with Gould’s rhetorical “we” it becomes clear that “we” do not haveAIDS, “we” are not HIV positive and “we” are positioned with Gould on his viewing platform observing thesecrashing waves and engulfing fires slowly moving towards “us”. “We” are not yet part of them though, but ourboundaries are close to being transgressed, “we” are close to being engulfed, close to dissolution. What solutions areindicated by these metaphors? What emotions are triggered? Biblical images spring horribly to mind, of floodsridding the world of the bad. Gould cannot escape these associations. Theweleit, K., 1987: Male Fantasies. VolumeI (Cambridge: Polity Press).44assuming the capacity to ‘represent them and not be represented. Gould’s geographical viewingplatform thus gives rise to both his spatialisation of AIDS and a series of anecdotal ‘otherings’,drawing on an inconsistent, and sometimes dubious, mishmash of political, cultural and socialfactors, which are meant to be explanatory of the former spatialisations. From this viewingplatform, and for all his earlier qualifications, he objectifies and reduces people to nodes in theweave of a cloth across which HIV moves, and talks authoritatively about other cultures andsocieties without questioning the position from which he speaks. Haraway describes thismanoeuvre as pulling the “god-trick.” She uses this term to refer to the assumption oftranscendent, disinterested, disembodied vision - a god’s eye view. She argues that it is a visiononly available to those with social power, like scientists, with all other vision considered to bepolluted, particular, embodied and biased.95 As already stated, some of these anecdotes seem tohit valid targets and are driven by keen political commitment, but many could be interpreted asculturally insensitive. But just as pulling the “god-trick” at the large-scale allowed Gould toadvance a situated and personal vision as the common “facts” before “our eyes”, at the small-scale,a series of situated and personal cultural and social assumptions and representations can beunproblematically presented as the factual reasons for the larger-scale picture. But “the process ofrepresentation is constructive not mimetic” and behind the epistemological “god-trick” Gould is stillimplicated in a discursive construction of the world for the reader, a display of partial truthclaiming to be much, much more.96 As I shall illustrate, the stories he tells and the anecdotes herelates to explain patterns of H1V infection and condom use draw on a mixture of colonialrepresentations, Western ‘common knowledges’ and interlinked cultural attitudes, and, in theirtelling, act to reinforce and reiterate the self-same set of ideas, attitudes, beliefs andrepresentations. Action is taken, opinions are formed and policy is made on the flawed basis ofthese supposedly “true”, “transparent” and “objective” representations. The signifying practicesGould uses thus encode and legitimate a wide variety of often dangerous or derogatory aspirations,attitudes and beliefs.Haraway, D. 1992: “The Promises of Monsters: A Regenerative Politics for Inappropriate/d Others” inGrossberg L., Nelson, C. and Treichier, P. (eds), Cultural Studies, (New York: Routledge), pp.295-337.96 Gregory, D. 1994: Geographical Imaginations (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers), p.8.45Below I provide a brief selection of Gould’s representations of ‘others.’ His notion of place andspecificity is revealed to be the site for an often offensive anecdotal ‘othering.’ Gould’sexplanations for variations in global condom use form a series of gross and insensitivegeneralisations as he rushes through a massive amount of cultural complexity without reference orcontext. He declares, citing no evidence, that “most Frenchmen express great distaste for usingcondoms on sensual and aesthetic grounds”97 and then turns his gaze to Eire where there isapparently “rapid seepage” of HIV into the heterosexual community, constituting the gaycommunity as a leaky reservoir of infection with a single sweep of the pen.98 Later, in Jamaica“men sometimes try to “score” their half-century in children, as though procreation were a cricketmatch. [And] in a squatter area there is nothing much else to do except make love without acondom you cannot afford.”99 If this really is the case, some reference to economic and politicalissues would provide necessary context for the representation. Next stop on the anecdotal expressis Thailand, where Gould relates a dated 1973 story, again with no evidence or contextualisation,of large shipments of US condoms proving “less than satisfactory” because most of the men had toattach strings round their waist to stop them falling off. Gould’s conclusion is that “we have to besensitive not only to cultural variables but to physiological ones too.”100 “We” do, but I do notbelieve that relaying the story in this manner serves any purpose other than entertainment andstereotyping. In Kenya “education and condom availability are again a matter of too little toolate.”101 Again no wider political, colonial, economical or historical context is provided with thissweeping and crass judgement. The West’s involvement and possible complicity in the existingsituation is effaced as the country is dealt with in isolation. The situation there is presented ashopeless, so should Kenya therefore be abandoned to AIDS? Moving on, Gould presents twostories from Zimbabwe. In the north “one truck driver noted that he had overcome his dislike ofcondoms by cutting the tips off”102 and, elsewhere, a health worker apparently demonstrated“ The Slow Plague, p.51.98 Ibid., p.51.Ibid., p.54..100 Ibid., p.56.101 Ibid., p.56.102 Ibid., p.57.46condom usage on her thumb and subsequently received a letter from an outraged man whosepartner had got pregnant despite the fact that he wore a condom on each thumb duringintercourse.103 What effect does Gould hope to achieve by telling these stories, and how are theindividuals in question represented? “We” are uncomfortably positioned observing a series ofrepresentations of ‘quaint’, ‘illogical’, ‘childlike’ Africans; and discourses of colonialism echo inGould’s work.In the central core of The Slow Plague Gould presents four case studies of spatialised HIV andAIDS. In the first of these Gould focuses on Africa, and he is clearly, and justifiably, frustratedwith the political situation he observes there, since it prevents concerted action to combat the spreadof HIV. But, again, he neglects to examine the historical and colonial context for this corruptionand thus tends to both naturalise political corruption and mismanagement as essence of Africa andefface Western complicity in past and present systems of power.’04 He states “we are talkingabout a continent where the former and self-crowned emperor Bokassa put away $2 billion.”105Firstly, “we” are clearly not of this continent and the “talking about”, rather than “engaging with”or “listening to” is a silencing product of the “god-trick” position. Secondly, Africa, a massivecontinent containing many different cultures, is presented as socially homogeneous. Thirdly, nofurther context for the corruption is given. And fourthly, Bokassa is taken to represent a wholecontinent. In the conclusion to this particular case study Gould attempts, insensitively, to enter themind of ‘the African’ - “People, either from your own government or foreigners, can throw moneyat you, and you will gladly, even bemusedly, take it - but not seriously, not believing it will really103 Ibid., p.57.Gould is aware of the dangers of over-simple causality and determinism in work on the ‘Third World’. Hedescribes the common academic process of ascribing every ill in sight to colonialism and capitalism as “templatingthe Third World”. Templating is, he argues, a process of looking for what one wants to find, and, of course, findingit. However, I believe that Gould swings too far in the opposite direction in order to avoid this error. He presentsan oversimple and constrained picture of ‘Africa’ too. Of course there is corruption and wickedness in Africa, as inevery country. But there is also a colonial legacy and an inequitable world economic system. To concentrate on theformer ‘fact’ without even mentioning the latter is to naturalise corruption, cruelty and chaos as essence of Africawhen, in fact, this has a wide and intricate context that needs to be considered. Once again, I feel that Gould sets hisargument up in an overly oppositional tone in ‘Spaces of Misrepresentation’ - his anti-dogma call is againstoversimplification in explanation, but he greatly simplifies the major arguments too. Gould, P., 1994: ‘Spaces ofMisrepresentation’ in Farinelli, F. et all (eds.), Limits of Representation, Studies of Action and Organisation Vol.5,(New York: The Institute of Mind and Behavior), pp.123-153.105 The Slow Plague, p.72.47do anything. You are certainly not going to put aside the exquisite and natural pleasures of makinglove, with an average of 20 partners (a value computed by one of those Western children of theEnlightenment) before you convert to AIDS.”106 There seems little that can be done for ‘theAfrican’ in this representation. They are, inevitably, going to convert to AIDS. Gould thus givesthe AIDS situation in Africa a very pessimistic reading. The situation may indeed be serious, but apessimistic representation of Africa without adequate consideration of “our” involvement in thesituation is to lead the Western reader to the view that the continent is too far gone to save andshould be cut adrift or “disconnected.” Gould is not, as he seems to believe, working within aneutral scientific space where representations have no effect. His work will be formative ofopinion, attitude and belief, and upon these foundations action is taken.Gould is right to argue that place does matter. There is a need for a sensitive understanding ofplace-specific sexual ideologies, attitudes and behaviours in order to provide reliable input to 11Weducation programmes, in order that the ideological power of “unsafe” sex can be negotiated andresisted. Geographers are well-equipped to provide this information. But the epistemological siteto generate such information is not the geographical scientist’s viewing platform fitted with ahigher powered lens in order to look at and subsequently talk about. This mode of seeing andknowing can only result in objectification and the type of culturally insensitive, and possiblyformative, anecdotes described above.Geographers’ Savage-Pictures: AIDS Out of Africa?A similar mode of seeing and knowing ‘Africa’ manifests itself earlier in the book when Gouldattempts to locate the origins of HIV on that continent in a chapter entitled The Origins of 11W:closing an open question?’ Gould commences by announcing that “scientists are trained to beconservative and patient. If you do not know, if you are not sure, you try to find out bymarshaling evidence so convincing that even the most doubting Thomas among your critics has to106 Ibid., p.86.48concede the truth of the story you tell. “107 This statement, of diligence, patience and objectiveresearch, does not tie in either with the AIDS science Gould sees or the science described andanalysed by Woolgar, Haraway, Rouse et al. Gould is here relaying the myth of science, the‘received view’, in order to give his own conclusions their “scientific” power. His argument thentakes a strange turn. He goes on to describe the way that truth for science can often be temporallyrelative, with Newton’s “rhetoric” being replaced by Einstein’s, but then adds, as stated, that “allthe fingers of evidence point to African origins, and they are scientific fingers not accusingfingers.”108 These scientific fingers are pointing to the origin of HIV in African primates and itssubsequent jump’ into humans. This is a particularly unreflexive piece of writing. Firstly, theevidence he himself collects, together with the critiques of science examined here, indicates thatscientific fingers are no different to anyone else’s. They are quite capable of accusing. Secondly,he has just stated that truth in science can be temporally relative and rhetorically established, sohow can he then be so sure that AIDS is from Africa and that it is not just another temporallyrelative truth, perhaps serving certain political, psychological and capitalistic purposes? Gouldwould presumably reply “by marshalling evidence.” I am in no position to dispute the facticity ofthis evidence, but it should be noted that other workers have analysed similar information andcome up with very different results, founded on the possibility that science itself articulatesdiscourses of race and accusation, irrevocably tainting this evidence of AIDS in ‘Africa’. I willdiscuss their work in a moment. Gould’s comments on Newton and Einstein also indicate that nomatter how much evidence he marshalls, the facticity of his evidence will never be assured. Oldevidence will be disproved and new evidence will come to light. The finality and conclusivenesswith which he points his finger at Africa are therefore misplaced, and he fails to consider the socialimplications of such a siting in his popular geographical work.Science - including geography, biology and medicine - has a long history of articulating andreinforcing discourses of race and colonialism. Only by neglecting this deeply politicised history,his own evidence of socially distorted science and his own earlier view that scientific truth is107 Ibid., p.10.108 Ibid., p.11.49rhetorical and relative is Gould able to advance his own conclusions about origins. Si(gh)ting theorigins of HIV in Africa sits very uncomfortably, but then very neatly, along side earlier“scientific” but racist notions that Africans are evolutionarily closer to sub-human primates andwith the profusion of social and cultural images of Africans as unreliable, primitive jungle dwellersliving in close proximity to monkeys. “Africans are once again positioned as the “link” betweenman and beast.”109 “Africa, it seems, has been created as a unique space, as a repository of death,disease, and degeneration” and the 11W origin story, whether “true” or “false” reinforces thedegenerate uniqueness of African space.’10 If science is intrinsically social it cannot be assumed tobe free from racist assumptions or undertones.111 Prior models and myths of disease, sexualityand race may both pattern new narratives and reinforce old ones. This African origin story isloaded with dangerous connotations and possibly underpinned by the same social discourses ittriggers and feeds into.The Chirimuutas rely on much the same type of reading of science as Gould, as messy, social andself-interested, to draw the opposite conclusion about the origin of 11W in Africa. They argue that“racism, not science, motivated the search for AIDS.”2 They say there has been no seriousinvestigation of the possibility that AIDS was introduced to Africa even though there is evidence109 Comaroff, J. and Comaroff, J. 1991: Of revelation and revolution: Christianity and consciousness in SouthAfrica. vol 1 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press), p.98.110 Vaughan, M. 1991: Curing their ills: Colonial Power and African Illness (Cambridge, England: Polity Press),p.2.111 For a detailed examination of how discourses of race play themselves out in science, see Harding S. G., (ed)1993: The “Racial” Economy of Science: Toward a Democratic Future (Bloomington: Indiana University Press).For a more specific treatment of the articulation of race, sex, culture and nature in colonial medical science seeVaughan, M. 1991: Curing their ills: Colonial Power and African Illness (Cambridge, England: Polity Press). SeeCochrane, M. 1991: Deconstructing ‘African AIDS?: An Analysis of the Production of Scientific Knowledge, MAThesis, Department of Geography, University of California at Berkeley, for a similar and more specific treatment of‘African AIDS’. And for a stunning examination of how the themes of race, sexuality, gender, nation, family andclass have been written into and written by the body of the western life sciences and, especially, primatology, seeHaraway, D. 1989: Primate Visions: Gender. Race and Nature in the World of Modern Science (New York:Routledge).112 Chirimuuta, R. and Chirimuuta, R. 1989: AIDS. Africa and Racism (London: Free Association Books), p.128.They are echoed in this view by Patton who also argues that “blatant racism” undergirds the search for a “source” ofAIDS in Africa and that this search “stems from the wish to discover that AIDS is an “old” disease which wasconfined somewhere else until technological change created contact with “isolated” peoples. Constructing AIDS as“old” (if not primordial) and situating the virus in “Africa” naturalized the disease, reinforcing the view that sciencesolves the problems thrown up by nature and society, and is therefore separate form both.” By this reading, even thenotion of a “source” is seen as a social construction, a rhetorical manoeuvre by science to maintain its communitystanding and authority. Patton, C. 1990: Inventing AIDS (New York: Routledge), p.69.50suggesting this as feasible. “If the scientists only look for the origin of AIDS in Africa, they willcertainly not find it anywhere else.”113 “If there is any truth in the hypothesis that the AIDS virusoriginated in monkeys (and African monkeys are not the only candidates) it would seem moreappropriate to investigate modern medical research rather than speculate widely in such anoffensive and ignorant fashion about the customs and behaviour of Africans.”114 Patton’s worksimilarly acts to undermine the conclusiveness with which Gould expresses his African origintheory and, in particular, call into question the ‘reliability’ of the evidence collected by Westernmedical science in Africa as well as the moral and ethical transgressions involved in obtaining datafrom the region. In particular, she highlights the problems of using a test for HIV developed in theWest in the very different medical conditions offered by Africa and argues that the results thenproduced are extremely unreliable, with this ‘unreliability’ frequently used as an excuse to movestraight to worst-possible-case 15 Similarly, Farmer, in a powerful piece of work,describes how science and medicine use speculative and racist beliefs to frame discussion of AIDSin Haiti, with ill-informed ideas and assumptions about voodoo practice and cannibalism constantlydrawn upon to underpin supposedly scientific research. He describes how North Americanscientists repeatedly speculated that AIDS might be transmitted between Haitians by voodoo rites,the ingestion of sacrificial animal blood, the eating of cats, ritualized homosexuality and so onthrough a panoply of further exotica. Not one of these speculative assertions was bolstered byresearch but all were aired in the nation’s most prestigious medical journals.”6 With science aspersuasion or a “good story” however, these refutations of Gould’s siting are perhaps less likely tostick than a narrative that is perhaps both underpinned by and a re-confirmation of what “we”already knew, deep down, about Africa.113 Ibid., p.136.114 Ibid., p.73.115 Patton also makes the valid point here, however, that the problematic of “African AIDS”, from the standpoint ofcurrent science, is believed to be the unreliability of epidemiology and diagnosis in Africa. By scientific definitions,the data is, unarguably, unreliable - more so than Gould suggests in his work. He thus builds his conclusions onthese ‘unreliable’ foundations. But this ‘unreliability’ is, she argues, not a problem of Africa, it is a problem ofWestern ethnocentrism since the epidemiology of HW in Africa relies on tests and clinical definitions developed inthe West, for social and pathogenic conditions there. There is thus a risk, which must be avoided, of perpetuatingstereotypes of unreliable Africa when necessarily questioning Gould’s evidence. Patton, C. 1990: ‘Inventing “AfricanAIDS” in Inventing AIDS (New York: Routledge), pp.77-97.116 Farmer, P. 1992: AIDS and Accusation: Haiti and the Geography of Blame (Berkeley: University of CaliforniaPress).51Gould believes that locating the region from which the virus came will allow “us” to learn moreabout the virus and perhaps develop a vaccine. This may be nominally “true”, I am in no positionto judge. But how will Gould’s popular geographical work help in the development of thisvaccine? Virus sourcing by a popular geographer and a virologist have very different socialeffects. In the former case, I see no social gains coming from this chapter and no succour offeredanywhere. Instead I see a debatable siting of the origin of HIV pushed as true in directcontradiction to the rest of Gould’s discussion of AIDS science and his own statements aboutrelative and rhetorical scientific truth. Such a siting here serves no purpose other than to inscribeHIV on the African body. From this inscription stigmatisation, blame and dangerous internationalAIDS policy all too readily follow.Patton argues that such representations of AIDS in Africa - as indigenous and apocalyptic - serve auseful purpose for European and North American drug companies, since they allow “us” “to seesuch things as the placebo trials for vaccines planned for African nations as noble, notgenocidal.”7 “Proposals to run HEY vaccine trials in Africa which would never pass ethicalmuster in the West are justified by invoking precisely this image of a dark continent perpetually onthe brink of natural disaster.” Gould’s work and the meanings he gives to AIDS in Africa thuscannot be dislocated or divorced from a wider social context or these possible constellations ofdominatory power. They will impact on attitudes, beliefs and possibly actions.Gould saves the worst until last in this chapter. He argues that “it appears fairly sure now that bothvarieties of HTV were a result of cross transmission from animal populations in Africa.”118 “Fairlysure” seems enough for him to launch into “plausible speculation” about modes of transmissionfrom the primates of Africa into humans, and several of these modes carry the further connotationof ‘African’ self-infliction of the disease. Scientific positivism once again enters into a clumsyencounter with ‘culture’. He declares that “wild animals, including monkeys and apes, are an117 Patton, C. 1990: Inventing AIDS (New York: Routledge), p.67.118 The Slow Plague, p.17.52important food source for many African and other [although, of course, not “us”, the “we” readingabout these others] people, and in preparing the meat it seems likely that an open sore, or a cut likea surgical stick was the route for cross-species transmission. Perhaps a knife used for preparinginfected meat was used later in a scarification ceremony” . . . “A more likely explanation comesfrom an anthropologist [a call to “scientific” authority] who recorded a custom of some of thepeople living near the lakes of the Great Rift Valley of Central and East Africa. In order to increasethe sensations of sexual intercourse, the blood of male and female monkeys was inoculated into thepubic, back and thigh areas of men and women, presumably in an act of sympathetic magic.”119Returning to the essay’s visual theme, “we” are here constituted as voyeur. This “plausiblespeculation” reinforces racist and colonial constructions of distinctly ‘strange’ African sexuality. Itrests on extremely dubious ‘armchair anthropology’ dredged up to try and explain what has alreadybeen revealed as a highly contested and problematic presumption: that HIV originated in Africa.His earlier citation of Jonathan Swift from On Poetry makes ironic re-reading in the light of theabove: “So geographers, in Africs maps, With savage-pictures fill their gaps)”2° Plus ça change?Conclusion‘ways of life are at stake in the culture of science.”Haraway, D. 1992: “The Promises of Monsters: A Regenerative Politics for Inappropriate/d Others” inGrossberg L., Nelson, C. and Treichler, P. (eds), Cultural Studies, (New York: Routledge), p.299.Gould establishes a stark dualism in The Slow Plague: between the socially distorted AIDS sciencehe so vehemently, and apparently justifiably, criticises; and the supposedly untainted, clear-eyedand practical geographical science that he then advances and uses to examine the spread of AIDSand HIV. Here, his work runs into the paradox encountered by all who engage in an explicitly119 Ibid., p.17.120 Ibid., p.10.53social critique of science and, as I hope I have demonstrated, his subsequent steps to negotiate thisparadox prove somewhat faltering. When one reads the book without having either read his otherwork or a basic understanding of the work of Habermas, Gould appears unreflexive in the extremesince he makes no explicit attempt in the text to distance his own science from the science he soheavily criticises. Drawing on the social constructionist critiques of science, to add to the evidenceof socially distorted science which Gould himself collects, acts to remove the epistemologicalgrounds for any possible distinction between the two forms of ‘sociaP science and expose some ofthe rhetorical manoeuvres of persuasion and concealment Gould then attempts in order to builddistance between the AIDS science he critiques and his ‘better’ geographical science.However, re-viewing The Slow Plague through the filter offered by writings published by Gouldelsewhere and, particularly, the work of Habermas, acts to cast a somewhat different light on hisproject. The Slow Plague appears to be a remarkably well-motivated and noble attempt tointervene in the communicative reproduction of society via the public sphere, exposing sociallydistorted AIDS science and then attempting to proffer, through force of argument, an open andrational geographical science to help in the fight against AIDS. However, though this project maybe noble and, in its own way, an implicit attempt to negotiate the above paradox, it is, I believe,ultimately still deeply flawed. It is this “gift” of a supposedly open and rational geographicalscience that proves most problematic theoretically, since his scientific and geographical knowledgeis not merely rational and reasonable, potentially awaiting distortion by power. It is power to itsvery roots, and, therefore, also intrinsically and deeply political. Through strength of will and adeep moral and ethical sense, Gould may be able to distance his work from the distortions of theAIDS science he observes, but he cannot choose to dislocate himself and the geographicalknowledge he produces from power and the political. As a result, I believe his “gift” is not a‘better’ narrative at all, and, at times, it proves to be an exceedingly problematic, possibly evendangerous, one.I believe the book’s most powerful passages and conclusions stem from Gould’s unwillingness tobend; his stubbornness; his desire not to be one of “them” - a “team player.” The passionate54criticisms he levels at the work of those within the temporal AIDS research paradigm aredevastating and seem warranted. If true, his observations form a damning moral and ethicalindictment of this AIDS science. They draw their power from the coupling of Gould’s admirabledetermination to an acknowledged personal situatedness. In these sections he is very much‘present’ in the text as an affective, social and political subject. From this ‘situation’ comes,indeed, a geography for the public good. But the worst of the book comes from this stubbornnesstoo, and arises when Gould attempts to uncouple his situatedness and fails to acknowledge, first,the political and social specificity of the location from where he sees and speaks and, second, thepolitical content of the knowledge he produces. These problematic passages occur when Gouldattempts to work, speak and see from the position of a supposedly clear-eyed geographical science.Gould does not seem to reflect on the lessons learned while situated. He is stubbornly unreflexive,both to the evidence he himself collects pointing to the irrevocably politicised sociality of all science- even his supposedly open and rational sort - and to vociferous debate within geography about theproblematic nature of representing ‘others.’This conclusion, if accepted, exerts a domino effect through The Slow Plague, revealinggeography itself as a highly politicised discipline, Gould’s visionary method as problematic, thetheoretical viewing platform from where he sees and speaks as earth-bound and socially situated,his spatialisations as constructed metaphor capable of negative, as well as positive, effects, hisvisualisations as a further intensification of these flaws, and Gould’s use of place as an insensitivecontinuation of his view from on high. A heavy critique - although, as I hope I have shown, Ibelieve Gould tells stories that produce ‘truth’ in the name of the geographer, stories that will reacha wider audience and may cause harm. So, liber geographicus pro bono publico? No.Very similar criticisms can, unfortunately, also be levelled at much of the dominant geographicalwork on AIDS. As stated earlier, this is centrally rooted in a positivist scientific epistemology andrelies upon the methods of spatial science to describe and represent the AIDS pandemic. Ittherefore shares faults with The Slow Plague, including objectification of people with AIDS; anexplicit focus on bodies, not social subjects; and a lack of consideration of place or social context55for the illness which would situate and balance the large-scale abstracted patterns of infectionwhich form the core of this geographical paradigm. This work may not reach the same popularaudience as The Slow Plague, but it still produces representations that could cause harm.For example, the very title of The Geography ofAIDS indicates a bunkered approach and neglectsto consider that there are, in fact, many geographies to the pandemic, including, most importantly,those belonging to people with AIDS, who exist only as numbers and black dots and act only asbackgrounded nodes or vectors for the virus in this account.121 The cartography in TheGeography ofAIDS is, like The Slow Plague, also presented unproblematically - as ‘fact’, notpersuasion. The authors centre Africa in the projections for the global HIV diffusion, daub it withlarge black question marks and then draw sharp black arrows emerging from the continent to piercethe rest of the world! An inconclusive piece of science thus becomes, when mapped, a dark threatfrom the mysterious heart of Africa. The London International Atlas of AIDS is a more diligent,non-committal, probabilistic treatment of the pandemic. Its depth and technical approach willpresumably lead it to a narrower audience than either The Slow Plague or The Geography ofAIDS. 122 This rather cautious approach is, however, undermined by the Atlas’ staggeringly crassuse of photographic images at the start of each of its chapters. For example, “Part Two: Originsand Dispersals” commences with a grainy stylised photograph of a Haitian “voodoo sacrificialaltar” complete with skull and sword.’23 “Chapter Eight: AIDS in Africa” contains only onephoto: “A young woman who makes her living as a ‘lady of the night’ sits in her one-room housein Lusaka, Zambia, before she makes herself up for the evening.”124 The photograph is obviouslyposed. The woman is sitting on her bed in a dirty room, staring at a wig and clothes on the floorand studiously ignoring her baby. These images act to reinforce offensive stereotypes and delivera sensationalist message directly counter to the cautious tone of the text. “AIDS in Africa”, forexample, is embodied in the “African prostitute” who lives in squalor and lacks proper maternal121 Shannon, G. W., Pyle, G. F., and Bashshur, R. L. 1991: The Geography of AIDS: Origins and Course of anEpidemic (New York: Guilford).122 Smailman-Raynor, M., Cliff, A., and Haggett, P. 1992: London International Atlas of AIDS (Oxford:Blackwell).123 Ibid., p.116.124 Ibid., p.279.56instincts. The geographical tendency to take “us” away from the spaces and places where AIDS is- through diffusion modelling and cartography - is also reinforced in the Atlas by the frontispieceimage for the chapter on AIDS in the United States: an “aerial photograph of San Franciscoshowing the districts most heavily affected by the AIDS/HIV epidemic.”’25 Space is pre-eminent.Districts are affected by AIDS, not people. The image reflects the objectifying and distancingtendencies of spatial science’s approach to the pandemic, particularly a distancing from gay menand their spaces.126 Geography, of course, does have a significant part to play in the fight againstAIDS, as Gould himself recognises. And distance itself can reveal useful and vital information,provided the conceptions of space and place then constructed are sensitively worked and presented.As yet, however, geography does not seem able to fully sustain such conceptions. The picture isone of a discipline letting itself down.In the course of my analysis of The Slow Plague, I have drawn heavily on a variety of explicitlysocial critiques of science. In one sense, these criticisms are particularly enabling, even for Gouldin his discussions of AIDS science. Scientists are seen not as engaged in the passive description ofexisting facts in the world, but as actively engaged in formulating or constructing the very characterof that world. By this means, therefore, scientists are brought to social, and not just scientific,account for their constructions and representations.’27 What is scientifically presented asdiscovered, out there or natural is revealed to be socially and politically produced and situated andshown to contain significant cultural assumptions. Transcendental, objective scientific visionbecomes embodied and situated. So, for example, Gould comes back down to earth with a bump125 Ibid., p.186.126 Brown, M., 1995: “Ironies of Distance: An Ongoing Critique of the Geographies of AIDS” forthcoming inSociety and Space 13.127 Here I am again reminded of Gould’s coliseum. The scientists fight for the real spoils on the floor and thecritics bay from the margined seats, calling for them to be bought to social account for their actions. This divisionis observed by Keller who believes that “discourse about science continues for the most part on twononcommunicating levels: one an increasingly radical critique that fails to account for the effectiveness of science [oreven engage with its practitioners!], and the other a justification that draws confidence from that effectiveness tomaintain a traditional, and essentially unchanged, philosophy of science.” Scientists perhaps possess the socialpower to largely ignore their radical critics, who are thus marginalised. But it may also be the case that these criticspartially contribute to their own downfall by couching their message in too esoteric a language. I agree with Kellerin this case, there does seem to be a gap in communication that needs bridging. Engaging in critique of sciencecertainly provokes the feelings of ephemerality described by Hall earlier. Keller, E. F., 1985: Reflections on Genderand Science (New Haven: Yale University Press), p.6.57from his god’s eye viewing platform and rather than accepting his apparently authoritative visionsas an ‘if-you-say-so’ truth, they become subject to social and cultural analysis and contestation.But in another sense, this argument, is also particularly disabling. This critical route makesHaraway nervous, largely because of the extreme relativism it introduces to science. She comparesthis critical method to epistemological electro-shock therapy when all she wanted was a strong toolfor deconstructing the claims of hostile science, showing its historical specificity, and socontestability.’28 Haraway wishes to hold on to the fact that science, whether representation,rhetoric, inscription, persuasion, power or politics, does still enable concrete ways of life and assuch cannot be critically dismissed with thumbs-down disdain, especially by those who want toinsist upon and imagine a better account of the world. They have stakes in a successor scienceproject offering a better, richer account of the world, in order to live in it well. Her desire is forboth an account of radical historical contingency for all knowledge claims and knowing subjectsand a commitment to a successor science project simultaneously! She argues that “all componentsof the desire are paradoxical and dangerous, and their combination is both contradictory andnecessary.”29This simultaneously enabling and disabling critique of science thus places me in the tension orparadox identified by Hall, elaborated by Haraway above and encountered by Gould. Siting allscientific work as social and political construction and all conclusions produced therein asrepresentation is a neat and tidy intellectual position, but an uncomfortable stance from a practicalpoint of view. It can lead to a cynical and nihilistic view of science, with this view capable of veryreal effects too, since science as it stands does offer many people hope, time and chances. Thishope could easily be turned to pessimism by such a heavy critical method. So, how fundamentallydo “we” accept this critique? To its radical and relativist, and perhaps ultimately disempoweringfinale? How complete can be our acceptance of the sociology and politics of knowledge and how128 Haraway, D. 1989: Primate Visions: Gender. Race and Nature in the World of Modern Science (New York:Routledge), p.11.129 Haraway, D. 1991: “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of PartialPerspective” in Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (London: Routledge), p.187.58complete our dismissal of a positivist epistemology? Gould may indeed be right when he statesthat science is “our only hope ultimately to stop the ravages of HIV.”13° Similarly, several ofGould’s more specific conclusions, though perhaps constructed within a problematic theoreticalspace, are worth holding. His powerful critique of much AIDS science will hopefully register withthose it is aimed at and provoke action, and his calls for better planned and managed research,while they may perhaps come from an urge to accomplish the impossible and shake the personaland political out of the scientific, nevertheless should be heeded. Geography can also offer AIDSresearch help in several of the areas Gould identifies, if not always in the manner he suggests.Sensitively executed conceptions of space and place will indeed open up new meanings andpossibilities within existing realms of research.131 And, as Brown cogently argues, “Preciselybecause of the social power of scientific discourse, there is critical potential for spatial-scientificgeographies.”32However, though Gould rightly pinpoints the importance of science in the fight against AIDS, andthus the need to re-inject a little pragmatism into my discussion after a heavy and wide-rangingcritique of science, his attempted negotiations of the paradox, already analysed, do not seem tooffer, in theory or in practice, a satisfactory route out of this epistemological tension. It istherefore necessary to turn to other workers and aLso, ironically in the circumstances, elements ofAIDS science itself for indications of the possible form these negotiations could take.At times, Haraway’s visions may seem utopian, but she is, at least, attempting to work from aposition that pragmatically recognises and addresses both the sociality of science and the intenselypractical nature of many of its fictions.133 Like Gould she insists on a continued faith and hope in130 The Slow Plague, p.204.131 Treichler briefly describes the form some of these conceptions might take, with the goal of place-specific andplace-sensitive work being “to analyze what the members of a culture find meaningful in relation to AIDS”, and theproduction of situated knowledges within “a global anti-AIDS strategy that mobilizes the scientific model of AIDSin culturally-specific ways” thus limiting the universalizing and imperialist tendencies of the scientific model butdrawing upon its efficacy. Treichler, P. 1989: “AIDS and HIV infection in the Third World: A First WorldChronicle” in Kruger, B. and Mariaini, P. (eds.), Remaking History (Seattle: Bay Press), pp.62-64.132 Brown, M., 1995: “Ironies of Distance: An Ongoing Critique of the Geographies of AIDS” forthcoming inSociety and Space 13.133 At times even Haraway tends towards paradoxy in her desire for a powerful, practical, socially-embedded andconstructed science. She does, however, imaginatively and persuasively manage to negotiate this tension, in theory59science, arguing that “science and technology are possible means of great human satisfaction” andinsisting on their necessity, since the production of knowledge is, she believes, vital for imaginingother possible futures worth inhabiting.’34 However, unlike Gould she aims to accept and workwith, rather than run from, the intensely politicised sociality of all science. She rejects the harmfuland damaging assumption of objectivism, calling instead for a persistence of vision, but a vision,or production of knowledge, that is continually situated within very particular social, political andinstitutional relations - in stark contrast to the grand-scale, non-specific claims of Gould’sgeographical science for the “public good”. She desires a doctrine of embodied objectivity, withviews from somewhere generating specific situated knowledges, with the object of knowledgeboth pictured and ac-knowledged as co-constituting agent in the construction of that knowledge.Science, as envisioned by Haraway, would thus no longer escape agency and responsibility in arealm above the social and political fray, but would be contested and contestable to its roots, as itproduces its practical fictions, for as Rouse argues, “Science is a means, the most successfulmeans we have devised to date, for constructing and improving representations of the world.”135at least. Accepting that science is intensely and intrinsically social and political, she argues “if our experience is ofdomination, we will theorize our lives according to principles of dominance. As we transform the foundations of ourlives, we will know how to build natural sciences to underpin new relations with the world.” This social-sciencefeedback loop suggests that critical attention and effort addressed to the sciences will perhaps be well-rewarded,because we cannot transform our sciences without also transforming the culture and society in which they exist -since science is both part of and reflection of that cultural and societal context and a powerful tool for altering it too.Likewise, societal change will be reflected in transformed science. Haraway, D. 1987: ‘Animal Sociology and aNatural Economy of the Body Politic, Part I: A Political Physiology of Dominance’ in Harding, S. and O’Barr, J.F., Sex and Scientific Inquiry (Chicago: University of Chicago), p.232.Harding too is similarly constructive. In The Science Question in Feminism she describes how feminist criticismsof science have moved from a predominantly reformist position to an increasingly revolutionary one: from a liberalproject aimed at getting women into science to a questioning of the possibility of using science for emancipatoryends when it is apparently so intimately involved in Western, bourgeois, masculine projects. She then surveys themain feminist critiques of science, from: equity studies, which document the massive historical resistance to womenaccessing scientific education and jobs; through use and abuse studies; to radical critiques which would argue thatscience is irrevocably tainted by patriarchy. She positively welcomes the tensions between these criticisms,believing that they all reflect valuable alternative social projects in opposition to the coerciveness and regressivenessof modem science. Her feminist critical project is thus a broad church - she wants liberal reform and radicalrevolution; a commitment to successor science projects and action to improve existing science. Theoretically it maybe necessary to choose between these two positions, but pragmatically they both offer the potential for change.Harding, S. 1986: The Science Question in Feminism, (Milton Keynes: Open University Press).134 Haraway, D. 1991: “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology and Socialist-Feminism in the Late TwentiethCentury” in Simians. Cvborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (London: Routledge), p.181.See also her essay “The Biopolitics of Postmodern Bodies: Constitutions of Self in Immune System Discourse” bc.cit. p.203.135 Rouse, J., 1987: Knowledge and Power: Toward a Political Philosophy of Science (Ithaca: Cornell UniversityPress), p.13.60Certain strands of scientific AIDS research offer hopeful signs that Haraway’s negotiation of thetheoretical tension can become manifest in practice too. Epstein reports on the first signs of anhistoric democratization of science triggered by the AIDS moment.136 He highlights a changingrelationship between ‘experts’ and AIDS social movements - particularly PWAs and gay seropositive individuals in the US - with the latter’s actions eroding the supposed stand-off betweenscience and the social as they claim the right to intervene in the doing of a science that inscribes ontheir bodies. This intervention has taken a two-pronged form: involving both political engagementwith the larger business/institutional structure of science, and an interrogation and manipulation ofthe day-to-day conduct of medical work and procedure, for example, in the testing of potentialvaccines, ‘cures’ and palliatives. Science would traditionally consider PWAs as highly biased, butPatton describes how long established subject-objectJexpert-layperson binarisms are becomingwarped, with PWAs able to speak knowledgeably about their condition and thus able to disrupttraditional ways of conducting medical experiments.137 Epstein argues that this partialdemocratization of AIDS science has been enabled by a very specific set of circumstances: medicalscience is perhaps the most accessible and public of the sciences anyway; US society has becomeincreasingly critical of the pretensions of medicine, with widespread cultural ambivalence resultingin a questioning attitude; middle class gay communities, hit particularly hard by AIDS, possesssignificant cultural capital which they can mobilise to fight the epidemic; and, finally, the clinicalcharacteristics of the infection results in walking carriers able to build up knowledge of, and speakeloquently about, their condition. These circumstances may be unusual therefore, but they havenevertheless resulted in the opening of democratic fissures, and, as such, signify that a ‘sociallycontaminated’ science can generate practical fictions and useful situated knowledges.136 Epstein, S., 1991: Democratic Science? AIDS activism and the contested construction of knowledge’t,Socialist Review 21, pp.35-64.137 Patton, C. 1990: Inventing AIDS (New York: Routledge).61Chapter Two - On Safari: A Journalist’s Own Storyof AIDS in East Africa62Chapter Two - On Safari: A Journalist’s Own Story ofAIDS in East AfricaIntroductionWhere the Story BeginsIn the bibliographic essay at the back of The Slow Plague, Peter Gould cites a “detailed, personaland anecdotal” account of the ‘African AIDS’ epidemic.’ This account, Slim: A Reporter’s OwnStory of AIDS in East Africa, was written by Ed Hooper, an English radio and newspaperjournalist and photographer who worked in Uganda throughout the mid-1980s, primarily reportingon Central African political affairs, but also filing stories on the state of an apparent epidemic ofAIDS spreading rapidly in Central Africa at that time.2 The same account is also cited in, arguably,geography’s other major contribution to the AIDS discourse: the London International Atlas ofAIDS.3 As described in the previous chapter, the Atlas commences each chapter with aphotograph intended to illustrate its theme. The chapter examining possible origins of HIV is,compared to Gould’s rhetorically laden and contradictory efforts on the same subject in The SlowPlague, a piece of diligent and non-committal science in which hypotheses are weighed but noconclusive affirmations are made. Unlike Gould, the authors do not resort to ill-informed‘armchair anthropology’ or draw upon speculative racist and colonial constructions of supposedly‘strange’ African sexuality and culture to explain possible virus jumps’ from monkeys/apes tohumans. Unfortunately, this conscientious science is undermined by the preceding large black andwhite photograph. The photograph, reproduced overleaf (Figure 4), directly follows a pagebearing the title “The Origins of HIV” and shows the main street of a small Ugandan fishing andtrading town called Kasensero.1 Gould, P. 1993: The Slow Plague (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers), p.217.2 looper, E. 1990: Slim: A Reporter’s Own Story of AIDS in East Africa (London: The Bodley Head).Smallman-Raynor, M., Cliff, A. D. and Haggett, P. 1992: London International Atlas of AIDS (Oxford:Blackwell Publishers).63Figure 4: Photograph of “Kasensero, on the shores of Lake Victoria, where someof the earliest recorded cases of AIDS occurred”, from Smailman-Raynor, M.,Cliff, A. D. and Haggett, P. 1992: London International Atlas of AIDS (Oxford:Blackwell Publishers), p.118. Photograph taken by Ed Hooper.A,64-‘-vThe photograph shows a rutted, baked-earth street, covered by patches of grass and lined withshacks and people standing in their shadows. It leads the eye towards the horizon but stopsabruptly in the mid-distance at the shore of Lake Victoria. The text may be telling us that 11W is ofindeterminate origin, but the image strongly implies, once again, a specific African source for thevirus. Perhaps it percolated from the lake itself!4 The problems with such a siting were discussedin the previous examination of The Slow Plague.The photograph was taken by Ed Hooper. He had arrived in Uganda in September 1980 as anindependent traveller with a professed love for the continent. He secured work for the UnitedNations as a transport officer on their World Food Programme before gradually moving intojournalism and photography. In the mid-1980s he worked as an unsalaried stringer for the BBCand filed freelance reports and photographs on a variety of Central African issues for the Guardian,Newsweek, the Independent and the New York Times.5 In 1986 and 1987 he published severalarticles and photographs in these journals on an apparent AIDS epidemic in Uganda which wassupposedly hitting the area around Kasensero particularly severely. This period of time saw‘AIDS in Africa’ first established as a major news story in the West. The slant given to most ofthese early media stories suggests that the prime significance of ‘AIDS in Africa’ was taken to bethe supposed fact that HIV was manifest primarily as a heterosexual epidemic on that continent.This ‘fact’ demonstrated that AIDS and HIV could no longer be metaphorically and literallyconfined to those in the four ‘H’ risk categories: Homosexuals, Haitians, Heroin-users andnotion may seem far-fetched, but it has been used or inferred in many widely-circulated and read popularrepresentations of ‘AIDS in Africa.’ For example, in a widely published piece, Shoumatoff remarks, “At some level,perhaps only mythical, Kasensero is the font of AIDS. . . How curious it would be, I think, if the source of theNile and the source of AIDS prove to be one and the same, that vast teeming lake deep in the heart of darkestAfrica.” Shoumatoff, A. 1988: ‘In Search of the Source of AIDS’ in African Madness (New York: Knopf), pp.132-133. The same article also appeared in Vanity Fair, vol 5 1(7), July 1988, p.105.Unfortunately, geographical work has also acted to reinforce this notion of Kasensero as mythic source of AIDS. Inthe previous essay I discussed, in passing, some of the dubious cartographic techniques used by Shannon et al in TheGeography of AIDS: Origins and Course of an Epidemic, the best-known US geographical text on AIDS. Theauthors also state “several businessmen’ were ‘suspected’ of dying with AIDS in late 1982 in Kasensero, Uganda, [a]small town [reputedlyl a center for smuggling and other business transactions.” They conclude therefore “from thisremote village setting, AIDS has now become an urban disease in Uganda”! ‘Suspicions’ seem enough for theauthors to centre Kasensero in the Ugandan AIDS epidemic. They also provide no possible mechanisms for thesudden shift from rural to urban epidemic. This is awful geography. Shannon, G. W. et al 1991: The Geography ofAIDS: Origins and Course of an Epidemic (New York: Guilford Press), p.69.Interview with Ed Hooper, 16/2/94.65Haemophiliacs, as had been the case in the early 1980s. Africa was thus held up as a salutarylesson for mainstream white, heterosexual society. Western media coverage of this kind reachedits frantic peak in 1986 and 1987, and, on the whole, was riddled with racism and voyeuristicsexism, often conveyed through thinly disguised colonial tropes, images and metaphors. It alsobetrayed a series of deep anxieties and extreme assertions, stemming, perhaps, both from thisrecycling of colonial discourse and from a desire to blame someone, or somewhere, for thedisease. This discursive overloading results in a series of gross ambiguities, contradictions,tensions, and fractures in the media coverage. It seems to bulge, strain and splinter under theweight of the meaning it is trying to carry. I will examine this specific mid-1980s discursivemoment in detail in the next chapter. I believe that the weight and nature of the popular coverage of‘AIDS in Africa’ at that time established a formative representational tone and pattern and asimilarly formative geographical imaginary - of ‘Africa’ as dark, disease-ridden source of AIDS -that both drew upon and reinforced earlier colonial and racist geographical knowledges. What‘we’ know, as newspaper readers and television viewers, about ‘AIDS’ and ‘Africa’ depends, to alarge extent, on what ‘we’ were told during this formative period when the media were saturatedwith coverage of the ‘African’ epidemic.Ed Hooper was one of the first journalists to break the ‘AIDS in Africa’ story in Europe and NorthAmerica. In essence, therefore, he was strategically involved in the production and disseminationof this AIDS imaginary. The places he visited and the people he interviewed in Uganda and Kenyawould become very familiar to careful readers of the newspapers in the months following his firstvisits to areas supposedly hardest hit by the AIDS epidemic. Other, often better-known,journalists quickly followed in his footsteps in the search for more stories about ‘AIDS in Africa’.Uganda appeared centrally in many of these early media stories, not necessarily because theproblem of AIDS was more serious there, but because the government initially displayed a relativeopenness to journalists - a decision they were perhaps later to regret because of the nature of the66coverage they received and its spin-off effects on attitudes and economics.6 looper producedseveral articles early in the media discourse on ‘AIDS in Africa’. Several of his photographs ofUgandan ‘AIDS villages’ and ‘AIDS victims’, as they were often tagged, were also widelysyndicated in the European and North American media, with the above photograph of Kasenserofinding its way, via a picture agency, into an academic book. However, Hooper also devotedmuch of his time in Uganda to research for a book on the AIDS epidemic in that area. He waseventually expelled from Uganda in 1987 for unspecified reasons, but he believes his constantquestioning of government officials about the AIDS situation in Uganda, against a backdrop ofincreasingly hysterical reports in the Western media, was partly responsible.7 This expulsioneffectively gave his book its ending and he returned to Britain to write Slim, a first person narrativeof his time in Central Africa reporting on and researching the AIDS epidemic in that area. Slim willact as a centre to my discussion in this section.Slim is subtitled “A Reporter’s Own Story of AIDS in East Africa” and splashed across the coveris the further explication “The dramatic story of a journalist working in the heart of Africa who iscaught up in the most terrifying and inexplicable medical disaster of our time, the epidemic knownin the West as AIDS and to the stricken people of Uganda as SLIM”! This emotive packaging ofthe book contrasts markedly with its often rather stolid contents. The book contains a considerableamount of technical and medical information, scientific conjecture and debate, policy information,two and a half pages of acronyms, and many verbatim interviews with Ugandan and internationalofficials involved in combating the epidemic, sex workers, people with AIDS and ‘bystanders’.Hooper obviously did a massive amount of research and, at times, the book sags heavily under itsweight. This technical information is juxtaposed in montage fashion with chunks ofautobiography, where Flooper writes about his personal and sexual life in Uganda and his actionsand feelings as he reported on the epidemic. Ryle summed the book up well when he wrote:6“ was impressed by the fact that, at a time when the rest of Africa was still tending to deny the terrible impact, oreven the existence, of the AIDS epidemic, Uganda had the courage to confront the problem head on.” Hooper, E.1990: Slim: A Reporter’s Own Story of AIDS in East Africa (London: The Bodley Head), p159.‘ Interview with Ed Hooper, 16/2/94.67“Ed Hooper was a stringer in Kampala covering the first months of National ResistanceArmy rule in 1986 for the BBC when the scale of the African AIDS epidemic firstbecame clear; Slim is a first-person account of his role in reporting it. It also tells thestory of his time as a fast-living expatriate in Kenya and Uganda and the relationship heformed with a Ugandan girl he met in one of Nairobi’s most celebrated pick-up bars.The style is rather rough, alternating between the forensic and the confessional, butSlim is an honest book, well researched, with a vivid sense of place that bespeaks apalpable love for Africa.”8This personal honesty is one of the most striking features of the book and Hooper describes eventsand feelings I myself would be loathe to relate to a public audience. It led another reviewer to write“Hooper’s autobiographical tale has a confessional feel, which derives from the author’s ownsexual activity in Africa.”9 This activity is described in matter-of-fact manner in the book, invitingthe comment from a further reviewer personally acquainted with looper: “If there was one personI was sure would die of Aids [sic] in Africa, it was Ed Hooper.”°Ed looper, like Peter Gould, produces popular representations of ‘AIDS in Africa’. They bothconstruct geographical knowLedges and are partly responsible for how ‘we’, the public, knowwhat we know about AIDS and Africa. I focus on Ed Hooper as a second case study and aim totell another story about a story-teller. Hooper is very much a journalistic kindred spirit to Gould.The intervention both men make in the AIDS discourse is deeply personal, politically motivatedand thoroughly committed. They do care. Hooper donates “a percentage of the profits from[Sliml to the indigenous Ugandan relief agency TASO - The AIDS Support Organisation - which isproviding remarkable care and support for Ugandans with HIV and AIDS.” And, the simple factthat he has taken an extra step to the other journalists reporting the same story and produced a bookon AIDS in Uganda demonstrates his admirable commitment to highlighting the problems he8 Ryle, J. 1990: ‘A dance of death’ - Review of Slim in Times Literary Supplement, London, April 27 - May 31990, p.437.Campbell, D. 1990: ‘Taking a slim chance with AIDS in Africa’ - Review of Slim in The Observer, London,8/4/90, p.58.10 Dowden, R. 1990: ‘A near-fatal attraction’ - Review of Slim in The Independent, London, September 1990, p.14.,1 Slim, p.xiv.68perceives. He is prepared to put his undoubted social power and authority to use in an attempt tohelp ‘the public’, both in the West and in Uganda.Hooper’s journalist’ is therefore remarkably similar to Gould’s ‘scientist’. Both characters aredriven to serve the public good and both seek to make a communicative and political interventionvia a tacit public sphere.12 A strong sense of social responsibility also seems to drive the work ofboth men. But not only do Flooper and Gould share a similar world [wearyj view and strongnotion of professional moral obligation within this world, as journalist’ and ‘scientist’ theyoccupy similar epistemological and rhetorical ground - as objective and distanced authorities uponthe social. Hooper himself recognises this similarity between their roles. He discusses fourbrothers in Rakai province, Uganda, who all died close together, probably from AIDS, anddeclares it as “a phenomenon which would certainly bear further scientific examination. I onlyregret that I passed over my best opportunity to investigate the matter on a journalistic basis.”13Science and journalism are here conflated. The latter carries the expectation that it is grounded inan historical actuality, and that it relates to this actuality as metonym. The journalist is thuspositioned as passive observer of this actuality. “The privilege of inspecting, of examining, oflooking at, by its nature excludes the journalist from the human reality constituted as the object ofobservation.”14 It is from this supposedly detached position that Hooper, like Gould, aims tomake his intervention.However, as has already been seen in the case of The Slow Plague, the authoritative, privileged,yet distanced, position traditionally taken by journalists and scientists is both myth and one onlyavailable with social power.15 Social power enables the two men to attain this position and they12 Both men root their work in very a very similar conception of ‘the public’: as a mass put upon by governmentand bureaucracy and therefore in need of assistance from scientific and journalistic free spirits.13 Slim, p31.14 Ibid., p.13.15 I refer here to an epistemological distance since the journalist enters a space, but the spatial scientist does not.However, both individuals attempt to secure an ‘objective’ di/stance for themselves in order to tell their stories,founded upon an epistemological subject-object dualism. The journalist’s’ distance therefore derives from theirpresence inside a situation but outside of its social context. The ‘scientist’ similarly attempts to epistemologicallywithdraw from the social. See Brown, M. 1993: Ironies of Distance: An Ongoing Critique of the Geographies ofAIDS, unpublished paper, (Dept. of Geography, University of British Columbia), p.38.69must work to sustain it through rhetorical effort. They pull the “god-trick.” Like Gould, Hooperis therefore forced to resort to many of the same rhetorical manoeuvres and deployments in anattempt to prevent social and political encroachment upon his supposedly depoliticised journalisticspace. And, as has also been seen, considerable problems can then be unleashed by therepresentations constructed from such a rhetorical position, since they purport to be objective andneutral when they are, in fact, situated, criss-crossed by relations of power and intrinsicallypolitical.The Slow Plague and Slim also contain a tension which acts to cast further light on the nature ofthe above rhetorical manoeuvres and deployments. Gould continually proclaims the possibility offree science while surrounded by a vast weight of evidence pointing to its irrevocably politicisednature. And Slim is a piece of literary journalism about journalism itself. Hooper is, therefore, attimes present and active in the text as he relays intimate details of his personal and sex life ordescribes how he travelled around the country, gathered ‘facts’ and reported the AIDS epidemic.Then at other times he goes absent and slips into the rhetoric of the objective, distanced, passive,truth-seeking journalist, questing for the ‘facts’ about AIDS in Uganda. The former accounts ofhow his representations are messily, haphazardly and often exploitatively obtained and constructedmakes a mockery of this latter rhetorical stance. Thus, the book at one and the same time bothfeeds into the discourse on ‘AIDS in Africa’, as a piece of representation; and outlines some of themechanics of construction of that self-same discourse. This makes the book a very useful tool forsituating his and other media representations of ‘AIDS in Africa’, but it also contradicts andundermines its own supposedly objective visions.The ambiguous nature of Slim, with its wealth of information on the production of the early mediadiscourse on ‘AIDS in Africa’ and its representational and discursive similarities to The SlowPlague allows my discussion of the book to act as a bridge between the previous critique of TheSlow Plague and the following section on key moments in the ‘AIDS in Africa’ media discourse.This necessitates a two-pronged examination of Slim: firstly as a piece of popular representationand specific knowledge claim about ‘AIDS in Africa’, following the pattern set by my earlier70critique of Gould’s work; and secondly as providing background to, and context for, the mediareports on ‘AIDS in Africa’ to be examined later.Examining Slim as a piece of popular representation involves subjecting it to a very similar style ofanalysis to the previous essay on The Slow Plague, deepening and further exploring some of theideas introduced therein and unravelling the rhetorics within which the story is couched. From aposition of rhetorical authority, both Gould and looper tell stories about AIDS, simultaneouslytelling wider stories about race, sex, gender, the social, nature, culture, science and religion as theydo so. These notions are thus called upon and reinforced or re-negotiated whenever AIDS is talkedabout. The discursive and signifying practices they use can be seen as shaping forms ofconsciousness, working on a symbolic and ideological level to construct, encode and legitimateparticular social, political and economic aspirations.Representing AIDS can have a very real, material effect on bodies, possibly life or death as Hallpersuasively argues.16 And when ‘Africa’ is added to the discursive mix, the combinationbecomes doubly explosive. Hooper is centrally concerned with the representation of a placealready soaked in meaning and association in the Western imagination. Much work has focussedon the linkages between knowledge, representation and power in the colonial period and beyond,and, in this manner, colonial writing and representation are read as part of a discourse bothenabling colonisation while being generated by it. Hooper is writing squarely within this nexus,and he cannot escape drawing upon many of the same rhetorical functions, tropes and negativeassociations. 1716 Hall, S. 1992: “Cultural Studies and its Theoretical Legacies” in Grossberg, L., Nelson, C. and Treichier, P.(eds), Cultural Studies (New York: Routledge), p.285.17 A vast weight of literature centres on this exact topic, including the seminal Said, E. W. 1978: Orientalism (NewYork: Vintage Books), Mitchell, T. 1991: Colonising Egypt (Berkeley: University of California Press), Young, R.1990: White Mythologies: Writing Histories and the West (London: Routledge), and the special edition of CriticalInquiry 12 (Autumn 1985). Other work focuses specifically on particular literary forms of representation and themedia, for example: Pratt, M. L. 1992: Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (New York: Routledge),Spurr, D. 1993: The Rhetoric of Empire: Colonial Discourse in Journalism. Travel Writing, and ImperialAdministration (Durham, USA: Duke University Press) and Said, E. W. 1981: Covering Islam: How the media andthe experts determine how we see the rest of the world (New York: Pantheon Books). See also Brantlinger, P. 1988:Rule of Darkness: British Literature and Imperialism. 1830-1914 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press) for a morespecific treatment and examination of Africanist colonial discourse.71Journalism and literary journalism have always played a key part in the creation of imaginativegeographies and popular knowledges and Slim represents a continuation of this trend.18 This‘knowledge’ can then link directly to the operation of power and to specific economic and politicalpossibilities and actions. On a small scale it may be that the representations jar the reader into someform of positive action. Or it may be that the representations firm up a conception in that reader’smind of Africa as perpetual site of disease, decay and death. On a larger scale, the actions resultingmay also be to the detriment of the represented. For example, pessimistic portrayals of the ‘AIDSin Africa’ situation as apocalyptic perhaps enables pharmaceutical companies to run vaccine teststhere that would not pass ethical muster in Europe or North America and still be seen as benevolentand philanthropic.’9 Popular representations of ‘Africa’ have thus always had and still have realconsequences for living people who have little control over how they are represented to morepowerful nations and cultures.To analyse Slim as a formative piece of popular representation is therefore a useful and necessarytask, but its literary journalistic format allows looper to describe the mechanics involved in bothresearching and writing Slim itself and to describe the personal, economic and political conditionsand mechanics facilitating and enabling his and other media representations of the apparent AIDSepidemic at that time. These conditions and mechanics are largely effaced in the final mediarepresentations as the authors adopt a mode of writing which positions the journalist as passive,observant eye rather than active, embodied and situated agent in the story. Then, when, in the caseof the ‘AIDS in Africa’ media discourse, attempts are made to analyse the representationsproduced, the journalist as agent is able to remain hidden. For example, Treichier, Watney,Patton, Bryn-Austin and the Chirimuutas all examine various moments in this media discourse,18 See, for example, Driver, F. 1991: ‘Henry Morton Stanley and His Critics: Geography, Exploration and Empire’in Past and Present 133, pp.134-’66or for a more general overview: Spurr, D. 1993: The Rhetoric of Empire:Colonial Discourse in Journalism. Travel Writing, and Imperial Administration (Durham, USA: Duke UniversityPress).19 For a fuller exposition of this powerful argument see ‘Inventing “African AIDS” in Patton, C. 1990: InventingAIDS (New York: Routledge), pp.77-98.72and produce excellent, incisive and necessary work in the process.2° But they only analyse themedia representations on a purely literary level - as shards emerging not from complex and specificpersonal and political dis/economies, but from a crude reinstated abstraction of this - the whiteWestern male in Africa - so well have the journalists hidden their tracks. As a result, their analysesof these representations lack depth and any consideration of the personal and political context fromwhich they emerged.In contrast, Slim provides this context. It reveals the background to a key discursive moment,detailing the specific personal, material, political and economic circumstances that gave rise tomany formative media representations of ‘AIDS in Africa’ and in turn allowing them to be situated,not within a purely free-floating theoretical situation as in the above papers, but within a realpolitical economy made manifest through an individual’s movements, looks, access and feelings.In the case of Slim, Ed Hooper’s own photographs and media stories, and probably, by inference,the ‘AIDS in Africa’ media discourse as a whole, this process of news construction, thoughnegotiated, proves to be centrally rooted in asymmetries of power and diseconomies of sight andrepresentation, with the balance tilted heavily in favour of Ed Hooper and his fellow journalists.Before commencing my discussion, I wish to introduce a note of caution. For a variety ofreasons, not least length (400 pages versus 200) Slim is a far more complex book than The SlowPlague. The Slow Plague carries a central fissure - Gould’s unreflexive and idealised notion ofscience - which can be prized apart to lay his argument bare. In contrast, Slim is riddled withfissures and ambiguities stemming from a variety of sources, including: the explosive discursivecombination of ‘AIDS’ and ‘Africa’; the subsequent import of the well-documented contradictionsand fractures inherent to the strands of colonial discourse upon which Hooper draws in his20Treichler, P. 1989: “AIDS and HIV infection in the Third World: A First World Chronicle” in Kruger, B. andMariaini, P. (eds.), Remaking History (Seattle: Bay Press), pp.41-66. Watney, S. 1990: ‘Missionary Positions:AIDS, “Africa”, and Race’ in R Ferguson et al (eds), Out There: Marginalization and Contemporary Cultures(Cambridge, USA: MIT Press), pp.89-103. Patton, C. 1990: Inventing AIDS (New York: Routledge). BrynAustin, 5. 1990: “AIDS and Africa: United States Media and Racist Fantasy” in Cultural Critique (Winter 1989-90),pp.129-152. Chirimuuta, R. and Chirimuuta, R. 1989: AIDS. Africa and Racism (London: Free AssociationBooks).73narrative; the difference in the political use of colonial discourse then and now; Hooper’s ownpersonal stance, which, at times, demonstrates a palpable and non-patronising love and concern forUganda and its people in stark contrast to the implications of this colonial rhetoric; and, finally,Slim’s own literary journalistic format and the fact that a large part of the book is about journalismitself, which generates a tension between absence and presence, and objectivity and subjectivity,and causes it to operate its own auto-critique.21 I therefore do not wish to overstate the logicalcoherence of the sign systems used by Hooper.The danger to be avoided in this analysis is to attempt to roll up journalism, science, empire,geography, their rhetorics and representations, the gaze, patriarchy and capitalism (to name butsome of the villains present in this text) into an over-simple self-determining system. This is not todeny connections and causalities, but the strength of an account which focuses on a case study likeSlim is the deeper understanding, rather than coarse generalisation, that can result. The aim is thusneither to apportion post hoc blame for the form of past representations nor to deride Hooper’sactions when constructing them. Instead, I aim for a deeper and broader understanding of apopular discourse - ‘AIDS in Africa’ - that is still operating in a very similar, and, I believe,dangerous form. Firstly, a deeper understanding of its literary and rhetorical nature, in particular,the routes by which a text situated in the extremely problematic ‘AIDS’ and ‘Africa’ discursivenexus can escape its well-meaning author. And, secondly, a greater understanding of the literalconstruction of this discourse through the juxtaposition of looper’s account with the final mediareports and the subsequent revealing of what normally goes unseen and unsaid within the latter.21 See, for example, Bhabha’s argument that the colonial power is subject to the effects of a conflictual economy,constituted in a repertoire of conflictual positions through colonial discourse, and that the colonial stereotype ortrope is a complex, ambivalent, contradictory mode of representation, as anxious as it is assertive. Bhabha, H. K.1983: ‘The Other Question’ in Screen, vol 24(6), p.22. And, As Spurr notes, “the crisis-ridden, unstable context ofcolonial power makes for a shattering of its discourse. . . a series of fragments made by stress fractures under theburden of colonial authority.’ Spurr, D. 1993: The Rhetoric of Empire: Colonial Discourse in Journalism. TravelWriting, and Imperial Administration (Durham, USA: Duke University Press), p.7.74Rhetoric and Representation: the literary construction ofSlimA Quest for Truth on a Potholed RoadEd looper couches Slim in terms of a journalistic quest for facts and figures about the AIDSepidemic in Uganda. The book is very much a personal crusade for the ‘truth’, which is notreadily apparent, but instead lies hidden, often deliberately obscured by the machinations ofgovernment or bureaucracy. ‘Truth’ can thus only be exposed by constant and tireless searching,moving, digging and questioning until one receives straight answers. Dowden describes the bookas “one reporter’s struggle to get his story out. . . Ugandan bureaucracy, the government’s fear ofcreating panic, anger at Western assumptions that Aids [sic] began in Uganda, all conspire toprevent Ed getting to the truth about Aids in Uganda.”22But Hooper’s journalistic quest is not simply about finding the ‘truth’. His searching has anexplicitly moral and political purpose and aim too, one I have already discussed. Hooper’sconception of the journalist’ is, like Gould’s conception of the ‘scientist’, as free-spirited and depolitical public servant.23 This public remains, problematically, ill-defined, a pan-global facelessmass of ‘common’ people ‘in the street’ who are cowed and let down by their governments andconstrained at all times by bureaucracy. For example, Hooper felt that, in Uganda, “the commonman was on a hiding to nothing”24with government largely to blame - “this regime was beginningto bend the rules, and move along the same extrajudicial path as its predecessors.”25 The publictherefore need a defender. Hooper, commendably, is prepared to fulfil this role: “Dr Abbasstopped for a moment, and I seized the opportunity to ask what efforts were being made to inform22 Dowden, R. 1990: ‘A near-fatal attraction’ - Review of Slim in The Independent, London, September 1990, p.14.23 This idea of ‘loneness’ serves to remove Hooper and his work from any wider systemic context. It is a ‘romantic’trope but one which does not bear much relation to the actuality of his specific situation, as stringer for the BBC andother large media organisations.24 jj p.4..25 Ibid., p.263.75the public about the risks.”26 And, in seeking to bring the ‘AIDS in Africa’ story to Europe asproof of heterosexual AIDS, he is fighting for the public there too.Hooper lets the reader know that this journalistic crusade for truth is a hard and difficult path tofollow. Every road seems to be potholed in his quest for a story. As he travels to Rakai to try andfind individuals with AIDS, he declares “the taxi drove slowly onwards down the Masaka road,bouncing into submerged potholes, the windscreen wipers providing one second of clear vision inevery three. . . It was a typical day out on the road in Africa: uncomfortable, yet at the same timeexhilarating.”27 Elsewhere he remarks: “it looked more like a cart-track than a road.. . It was oneof the worst roads that I had encountered in Africa”28;and later comments upon “a tarmac roadthat, despite its occasional pot-holed sections, was generally in excellent working order.”29Hooper’s path may be hard, but he will not be stopped: “a few days later, visaless, I sneakedacross the border into southern Sudan”30 in order to report on the guerilla war there. In framinghis quest, looper relies upon a traditional and much-used positioning of self in relation to ‘Africa’:of the brave white reporter going ‘where no man has gone before’ to secure a story and find thetruth. Torgovnick describes how Stanley, among others, frames his ‘adventures’ in this way too.Africa has often been represented as “a testing ground for men, a place of adventure, of rescuesfrom danger.”3’ Hooper is no doubt brave and committed, but, as Torgovnick hints in the abovestatement, this particular framing puts an overtly masculine, manly slant on to Hooper’s story.This slant is further compounded by Slim’s subtitle - “A Reporter’s Own Story of AIDS in EastAfrica.” There are echoes here of Boy’s Own stories, a long-running series of British imperialadventure comic-books full of tales of quintessentially British heroes. Watney picked up on thisassociation in his review of Slim, describing it as “yet another ‘Boy’s Own Story’ this time fromthe Deepest heart of Africa, with AIDS playing the part taken by other exotic diseases in earlier26 Ibid., p.25.27 Ibid., p.19.28 Ibid., p.33.29 Ibid., p.226.30 Ibid., p.27.Torgovnick, M. 1990: Gone Primitive: Savage Intellects. Modern Lives (Chicago: University of Chicago), p.10.76colonial accounts.”32 This is a particularly lazy review from Watney - the book is not this simple.It is much more than a Boys Own story and far more ambiguous. In Slim, ‘Africa’ is not simplythe backdrop for the play of Hooper’s ego. Hooper himself now regrets the book’s subtitle,feeling it is misleading: “I now regret the word ‘own’ in the title, which is, I think, incrediblyweak.”33 I would agree with him to some extent. But the gender specificity inferred by thesubtitle and in the manner in which Hooper frames his quest does manifest itself in the book. Anovert masculinism winds itself right through the text and, as I shall demonstrate later, directlyshapes the representations and imaginative geographies that emerge.Smitten by UgandaSlim, the story, begins with two maps. The first, shown overleaf in Figure 5, is a “map of EastAfrica, showing the main trucking routes” with Lake Victoria positioned centrally in the image.34The second map, shown in Figure 6, focuses in on the area around the Ugandan shores of the lakeitself and is titled: “Map of Rakai District, southern Uganda.”3532 Watney, S. 1990: Review of Slim on BBC World Service Book Talk, 25 April 1990.Hooper, B. 1994: Pers. comm., 15 March 1994.Slim., pp.xvi-xvii.Ibid., pp.xviii-xix.77Figure 5: “Map of East Africa, showing the main trucking routes”, from Slim,pps.xvi-xvii.-S78Figure 6: “Map of Rakai District, southern Uganda”, from Slim, pps.xviii-xix.79The second map introduces several places that will become familiar as I trace both Hooper’s storyand the media’s ‘AIDS in Africa’ discourse: Kyebe sub-county, the lake shore, the border withTanzania, Kyotera, Rakai, the source of the Nile and Kasensero on the edge of the lake. The areasurrounding Kasensero - Kyebe sub-county - has often been positioned, by journalists andgeographers, as the possible ‘source of AIDS’.36 On the map the county is swathed in thesymbols for swamps and marshland. Hooper himself gives a scrupulously careful reading of theorigin issue, but the book’s subtext runs out of control, relying on a number of images and tropesthat act to reinforce the colonial positioning of Africa as innate miasmic generator of new andstrange diseases. Maps themselves are socially and culturally emblematic, relying on a whole hostof social presuppositions, and they are potentially persuasive and formative too. The maps at thebeginning of Slim seem to serve a similar purpose to Hooper’s photograph of Kasensero in theLondon International Atlas ofAIDS.” They symbolically connect the AIDS narrative to a swampymarsh at the centre of Africa. The value-laden and damaging conclusions of Shoumatoff are thenjust a small step away.The manly nature of Hooper’s story and the innate links established between Uganda and AIDSare, unfortunately, both compounded by the strange, but all-too-common, way Hooper embarksupon his narrative. In a short prologue, Hooper sets up his story as a turbulent love affair betweenhimself and Uganda. He states:“Early in September 1980 I crossed the border from Kenya into Uganda, and straightaway began a love affair. As in most love affairs, we were not always happy together -in fact there were times when we loathed the very sight of each other, so much so thaton two occasions I was sent packing most cruelly, without even a chance to put myside of the argument. And yet, although I sit here now a little more wisely, and say‘never again’, and lick my wounds, were the object of my affections to let me know36 See my earlier comments on Shoumatoff’s Vanity Fair article, the London International Atlas of AIDS, and IhGeography of AIDS.80that I was welcome to return, that we could start again from scratch, that it was all a bigmistake, can I really say that I would refuse without a second thought? I fancy not.”37Hooper is hooked, “smitten”38 by Uganda, which carries the direct connotation that he has beenstricken, seized, infected or possessed with disease, desire or fascination39 and “suffice it to saythat, from the start, Uganda knew that I was hooked. “40What impact does this introduction have in a story about a place and AIDS? The country to beexplored is portrayed as feminine, reinforcing the masculine nature of the quest upon whichHooper has embarked. But Uganda is feminized in a particularly striking way, with a distinct setof characteristics. This feminine ‘Uganda’ is the locus of an addictive desire, with hints of dangerlurking inside her. She is knowing, dangerous, irrational, tempestuous and perhaps diseased.This feminizing tendency is a common colonial rhetorical manoeuvre. It serves to transfer thelocus of desire onto the object, in this case a female Uganda.4’ Hooper’s motives are displaced,so that he becomes an innocent, subject to the whims of an all-consuming desire he cannot avoid.‘Uganda’ is presented as dominant, alluring, enticing him hither and later sending him packing. Inthis way, the assymmetries of power that allow Hooper to fly in and out of Uganda, to travelaround the country and to love the place are concealed.42 The possibility, then, that ‘infection’ or‘possession’ may act in reverse, from Hooper, and other Europeans, towards Uganda, iscompletely precluded by his set-up. The impact of the above imagery in relation to AIDS isobvious - Uganda is positioned as agent seeking to lure and infect men like looper. Africa is,“ Slim, p.1.38 Ibid., p.1.Fowler H. W. and Fowler, F. G. 1975: The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English 5th edition (Oxford:University Press), p.1207.40 Slim, p.2.41 Spurr, D. 1993: The Rhetoric of Empire: Colonial Discourse in Journalism, Travel Writing, and ImperialAdministration (Durham, USA: Duke University Press), p.28.42 Ed Hooper is eventually expelled from Uganda by the government, probably because of the awkward questions hewas asking both about the fight against AIDS and the political situation in general. The Ugandan government thushas ultimate control over Hooper but until the moment of expulsion he is able to travel fairly freely and is notconstrained in the reports he files. I feel the balance of power and control lies firmly with Hooper while he is inUganda, and quote extensively from the text in order to back this argument up. The reader is therefore also able toexamine the situations I am discussing and decide for themselves where control lies.81once again, portrayed as seductive, destructive and potentially, perhaps innately, deadly to thewhite man.43 The reverse possibility is not considered.Hooper’s ‘Africa’In the above example, Hooper’s good intentions seem to be overwhelmed by the power of thecolonial discursive legacy and the negative and offensive connotations of the imagery, drawn fromthis discourse, upon which he often relies. Elsewhere in the book these connotations are furthercompounded by other comments on the nature of the country in which he resides.In the prologue to Slim Hooper paints a thumbnail picture of Uganda’s recent history from the1970s onwards. “To give some historical perspective to the story which follows . . . A series ofdictators and power-grabbers have milked the country dry, leaving it one of the poorest in theworld. “-‘i This is probably the “historical perspective” most Western media-watchers are familiarwith and it is one of political corruption, rigged elections, guerilla movements, socialfragmentation, violence, extortion, murder, gunfire at night, army and police brutality, road-blocksand inter-tribal friction. Uganda, at this time, seems to be a society in absolute chaos, almostconstantly interrupted by a series of guerilla insurrections and “dirty wars” involving mass rape,looting and indiscriminate bombing.45 Though democracy had arrived in Uganda at the time ofHooper’s story, he is unhappy with the political and military situation he encounters - “I was angryabout the soldier’s arrogance and casual brutality. . . too much power still resided with the bullyboys.” Hooper himself actually spends some time in prison, for possession of hemp, which heHooper, I am sure, would vehemently dispute this analysis and conclusion. In Watney’s review of the book hestated: “In ‘Slim’, as in the ‘Heart of Darkness’, Africa is imagined in the likeness of a gorgeous, infinitely seductivewoman’s body.” Again, this is a little lazy and a little over-simple. Hooper does have a palpable and nonpatronising love for Uganda and its people which shines through in other sections of the book and introduces adegree of ambiguity into any interpretation of his rather clumsy prologue. However, the sheer power of this openingimagery, its colonial associations and subtextual implications all act to convey a dangerous message about Ugandaand AIDS. Hooper sought to counter Watney by replying “I don’t know whether this image originates fromConrad’s brain, or from Watney’s, but it certainly doesn’t emanate from mine.” However, I feel he misses the pointslightly here. The imagery he uses is so commonplace it is almost unquestioned, even, perhaps, by Hooper himself.Its use is not necessarily deliberate or conscious, but its associative effects cannot be overlooked. Watney, S., 1990:Review of Slim on BBC World Service Book Talk, 25 April 1990 and Hooper, E., 1990: Personal letter to BBCWorld Service Book Talk editor, in reply to Watney’s review of Slim, 9 May 1990.Slim. p.9.Ibid., p.171.46 Ibid., p.273.82states was planted in his house by the police. In Luzira prison, he meets several characters “fromcrooks to cabinet ministers, who appear later in this book.”47 The two sets of characters are onlyone step apart in this country, and everyone, it seems, operates on the wrong side of the law.Hooper’s Uganda is still a society on the brink of anarchy and violence. “I felt, however, thatGulu was the sort of wild west town where casual murders could easily happen.”48 But theviolence he encounters is tinged with a theatrical tragi-comic touch. Hooper tells of AliceLukwena’s Holy Spirit Battalion - a religious guerilla force. Apparently she assures her followersthat they will be protected from bullets by sacred oil and ash, and that the stones they throw willexplode like grenades. “It was the sort of extraordinary story which could only be told inUganda.”49 One might add, ‘it was the sort of extraordinary story that is always told aboutUganda’! Similarly, while reading the local newspaper, New Vision, Hooper finds an articleabout the passing of the AIDS scare - “just like such frightening events in the past as ‘firingsquads, the talking tortoise, child abductions, exported skulls and genitals, trees rising from thedead...’ The talking tortoise? Sometimes I was impressed all over again by what a strange andwonderful place Uganda was.”5° Uganda may be unpredictable, but it is predictably so, and themagical slant of Hooper’s tales of violence acts to remove them from any meaningful context,perhaps psychologically distancing the Western reader from these unfortunate events.Hooper, however admirably motivated, is engaged in a fairly typical discourse on Africa.Violence, social upheaval, lack of social order and political corruption are presented as a naturalstate of affairs, endemic to the continent, which is both removed from the rational course of historyand examined in isolation from any other context - political or economic. Why was Uganda sovulnerable to political unrest in the 1970s? Whose factories supply the weapons that fire in thenight? Who trains and finances the guerillas? It is a discourse of negation and devaluation, and itrelies upon a rhetoric of triviality and dehumanization, which, when combined with the emphasison AIDS in the narrative, may well provoke a feeling of hopelessness or ineffectuality in theIbid., p.9.48 Ibid., p.100.Ibid., pp.234-235.50 Ibid., p.271.83reader, after all, chaos seems to be Uganda’s natural state judging by these representations.51 Ishould say at once that to criticise the abuses of Africa in the West does not by any means entailcondoning them within African societies, and there is undoubtedly partial truth in much of whatHooper says. But if he is to avoid or dampen the uncomfortable colonial echoes triggered by hisnarrative and prevent a naturalising of corruption, cruelty and chaos as essence of Africa, I believethat a more detailed contextualisation of the political and economic situation in the African countriesunder discussion is required. As his narrative stands, Slim reads as a story played out in aspatially and historically constrained and isolated ‘Africa’. This isolation then acts to rhetoricallylimit possible Western complicity and involvement in the AIDS situation under examination inUganda.The above set of representations of Uganda reinforce several colonial stereotypes and rely uponmany fragments of colonial discourse for their telling, looper does not tell the reader much that is‘new’ about Uganda, and the geographical ‘knowledge’ he imparts often has a distinctly colonialfeel. Then, when the subject of AIDS is laid across this backdrop of a feminized, knowing andinfectious country; a difficult, dangerous Africa with swamps and marshland at its core; and anAfrica considered in spatial and historical isolation, the reader seems to be marched towards somealmost unavoidable connections. These connections, linking Africa, disease and death, already lielatent in Western common consciousness, placed there by years of use and reiteration. Theslightest textual nod in their direction simply serves to reactivate these associations and reconfirmAfrica “in the post-Enlightenment European mind.. . as a unique space, as a repository of death,disease, and degeneration.”52 In a small section on the origins of AIDS Hooper gives the issue avery sensitive reading and declares “no reasonable person can blame a particular group or race ornationality for a virus or disease.”53 He also goes on to lament early “inaccurate and misleading”Western science which he believes is partly responsible for the possibly erroneous causal linking51 This is a theme echoed in the press. For example, the Los Angeles Times comments on the “sense of futilityabout the recurring famine, corruption and economic mismanagement” in Africa. 3/8/91: ‘Africa hit by donorfatigue’, Los Angeles Times, p.7.52 Vaughan, M. 1991: Curing their Ills: Colonial Power and African Illness (London: Polity Press), p.2.Slim, p.220.84of Africa and AIDS. However, Hoope?s conscious and sensitive intentions in this small sectionare, once again, overwhelmed by the sheer weight of imagery in the text that suggests, both overtlyand in more subtle fashion, that Africa and AIDS are linked: innately, naturally and causally.54AIDS from an Isolated and Forgotten LandHooper begins his story proper as he travels with companions from Kampala, through theswampland surrounding the Katonga bridge towards Rakai and Kasensero, on a trip many morejournalists were to make later. This was the area where the crucial battle in the last civil war wasfought, a scene of “legend” due to “the battle-dressed corpses which were said to lie rotting in thebrackish water.”55 Hooper declares “the three of us were on the track of the latest of the killerdiseases which Uganda seems to spawn with monotonous and cynical regularity . . . Normallysuch epidemics, even when they caused tens or hundreds of deaths, were dismissed by mostforeign reporters as being of only limited news interest when viewed in the general African contextof famine, disease and civil war. This epidemic was different.”56 On a later visit to Kasensero,Hooper heads across “a long, straight causeway through the surrounding marsh. The scenery wasbizarre, almost other-worldly; there was a sense of crossing over into an isolated and forgottenland. .. [They] grew quiet. . . we had fallen victim to the strange and eery beauty of the place.”57In this imagery, Uganda, the very land itself - isolated and forgotten, chaotic and corrupt - is ableto “spawn” disease. According to Watney, Africa is often positioned as a terrain of hidden evil,“an undifferentiated domain of rot, slime, filth, decay, disease, and naked ‘animal’ blackness.This infernal and unhygienic territory is the perfect imaginary swamp in which a new virus might54 acknowledging Hooper’s sensitive reading of the origin issue, Watney, in his review of Slim, declares thatthe “text none the less returns obsessively to the question of the much disputed origins of the HumanImmunodeficiency Virus”. I disagree. The forging of a strong linkage between Uganda and AIDS in Slim occursmuch more insidiously than through an ‘obsessive return’ by the author. Instead, the connections are made throughthe sheer weight of imagery used, much of it in subtextual and contextual passing, which both draws upon andreinforces common but dangerous elements of the colonial discourse on Africa. Watney, S., 1990: Review of Slimon BBC World Service Book Talk, 25 April 1990.55 Slim, p.15.56 Ibid., p.17.“ Ibid., p.33. This portrayal of the land as “isolated” is rather undermined by the fact that Hooper is travellingthrough it in a Fiat 125 with several companions, only half a day’s drive from Kampala.85‘percolate” •58 Science has been confounded by the HIV and there is therefore, perhaps, asubconscious need to locate its origin outside existing spheres of knowledge, in a “isolated andforgotten” part of Africa — in this case Kasensero once again; to represent the virus as a strange,newly discovered, external challenge to the system, rather than an internal flaw or anomaly.59Hooper’s imagery hints that this is the case, thus placing science back in control. He also invokesand reinforces Victorian models of miasmic disease generation, perhaps not consciously, butforcefully nevertheless.60 Thus, ‘older’ ways of knowing illness and disease can persist andsurvive alongside newer ‘viral’ systems of comprehension and shape understanding.These models held that disease and sickness would be generated in and emanate from foulatmospheres and squalid conditions. They represent a partial truth or explanation for geographicalpatterns of disease since those living in conditions of poverty were and are more susceptible toillness. But, like some of Hooper’s representations of ‘AIDS in Africa’, the model considers suchplaces in isolation and naturalises disease as innate to them. The model also carries connotations ofblame for those who ‘choose’ to live in these squalid conditions and are unable to maintainacceptable and hygienic standards of living. The whole truth of disease patterns also lies in themuch wider structural inequalities that underpin unequal development and localised ‘squalidconditions’. In Uganda this means the legacy of colonialism, the inequities of the world economicsystem, civil war, internal political turmoil, corruption and mismanagement.58 In this quotation, Watney was describing other media representations of ‘AIDS in Africa’, but his words couldeasily be applied to Hooper’s representations. Watney, 5. 1990: ‘Missionary Positions: AIDS, “Africa”, and Race’in Ferguson, R. et al (eds), Out There: Marginalization and Contemporary Cultures (Cambridge, USA: MIT Press),p.95.As I noted in the previous section, Patton argues that the search for the “source” of AIDS in Africa “stems fromthe wish to discover that AIDS is an ‘old’ disease which was confined somewhere else until technological changecreated contact with ‘isolated’ peoples. Constructing AIDS as ‘old’ (if not primordial) and situating the virus in‘Africa’ naturalized the disease, reinforcing the view that science solves the problems thrown up by nature andsociety, and is therefore separate form both.” By this reading, the sourcing of AIDS in Africa is seen as a rhetoricalmanoeuvre by science necessary to maintain its community standing and authority. Patton, C. 1990: InventingAIDS (New York: Routledge), p.69.60 “Specific diseases, such as cholera, as well as the state of being generally prone to illness, were thought to becaused by an “infected” (or “foul”) atmosphere, effusions spontaneously generated from something unclean. Usuallyidentified (first by its bad smell) as decaying organic matter, this disease-carrying atmosphere came to be identifiedwith urban rather than rural squalor, and with garbage, rot and the proximity of cemeteries.” Sontag, 5. 1988: AIDSand Its Metaphors (New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux), p.4!.86AIDS and ModernityElsewhere in the book, Hooper frames his understanding of AIDS in Uganda in an equally limited,way. He describes a country stumbling through the early stages of modernity, which has led to a“great divide in Ugandan society”61 - between the older, rural population and the liberated young,mostly urban-based population who are hedonistic and coming into contact with Western ideas andmovies, and driving the boom in the black market. He argues that these are all “factors in the newrootlessness, the easy-come-easy-go lifestyle that, twenty-five years after independence, seemed topermeate not just urban Uganda, but the urban areas of the greater part of sub-Saharan Africa.”62The onset of modernity seems to be adding to the already innately and naturally chaotic social,cultural and political state of Ugandan society. People are mixing, moving, and altering their‘natural’ behaviour; and this creates the ‘perfect’ conditions for a disease like AIDS to take holdand spread. For example, as Uganda develops “the trucking network, with its attendant ‘servicecrews’ of prostitutes and barmaids, constituted probably the most efficient amplification system forHIV in Africa.”63 This representation of Ugandan reaction to modernity and concomitant spreadof AIDS carries two sets of implications. Either Uganda cannot cope with modernity, with itspeople lacking the necessary attributes to develop ‘properly’, without chaos and disease. Or, moreromantically, but equally patronisingly, modernity is positioned as an external evil visited on amore simple and primitive society, which leads to breakdown in the traditional cultural and socialfabric and subsequent increased vulnerability to disease. Here too there is a partial truth in thismore modern framing of the AIDS situation in Uganda. Social and cultural change and increasedmobility and mixing of the population are likely to be contributory factors to the rapid spread ofHIV in a society. But, once again, to consider Uganda in isolation is to limit notions of causalityand frame an understanding of AIDS in Uganda as innate.This, then, is a summary of what Hooper says about AIDS in Uganda and Africa. He speaks froma position of rhetorical authority, drawn directly from having seen ‘with his own eyes’ the truth of61 Slim, p.227.62 Ibid., p.228.63 Ibid., p.182.87the situation in that area and indirectly from the cachet of his position as journalist and author. Hiswords carry weight, hence he is cited and used by other authorities on this topic. Slim will affectattitudes. In much of the book he is sensitive and demonstrates considerable compassion, but hestill manages to use images and representations that position Uganda as: female, possibly diseased;knowing agent, very much in control; politically corrupt; innately chaotic and violent; strange andisolated; eery; a miasmic land spawning epidemics; and disrupted by, and struggling with,modernity. Hooper seems unable to escape the colonial discursive legacy and his subtext thereforeinsidiously builds a picture of Uganda as an AIDS manufacturing machine. He draws upon aconsiderable amount of colonial imagery and rhetoric, thus both recirculating and revalidatingmany offensive conclusions. His reliance upon this imagery results in both a positioning of AIDSas naturalised and innate to Uganda, and a limited spatial and historical frame of understanding ofthe supposed epidemic there. This naturalising and limiting effect is a direct product of thefragments of colonial discourse he uses to tell some of his story. Inherent in this rhetoric is adisguising of agency and motive, and its use, as in the past, acts to distance Hooper, the reader andthe West from involvement in the situation under discussion.This rhetorical distanciation is compounded by the lack of an adequately wide historical,geographical and economic framing of the AIDS situation in Uganda, and this is, itself, also atypical colonial mode of understanding Africa, which is often presented as suffering from anabsence of history.64 This lack is the central absence in Slim. Hooper’s perspective, likeGould’s, does not include colonialism or adequate reflection upon wider inequalities ordiseconomies that would provide a more sensitive and nuanced understanding of ‘AIDS in Africa’.He misleadingly frames AIDS against “the general African context of famine, disease and civilwar” but this is not the level where context stops.65 A wider and more intricate template is needed,one which draws on both local and global scales of explanation and understanding and is groundedexplicitly in politics and economics.66 Danger lies in framing the AIDS in Uganda as, either, the64Ibid., p.100.65 5flj p.17.66 See my earlier footnoted comments on Gould’s argument in Gould, P. 1994: ‘Spaces of Misrepresentation’ inFarinelli, F. et all (eds.), Limits of Representation, Studies of Action and Organisation Vol.5, (New York: The88simple product of colonialism and capitalism, or as the essence of Africa. In both cases explanationis tautologically and dogmatically founded upon what ‘we’ already know about Africa, with theconstituency of the ‘we’ changing in each case.I feel that Hooper veers towards the latter framing. The lack of adequate political and economiccontext reinforces the distancing tendencies of the elements of colonial discourse upon whichHooper draws, since both text and subtext act to efface traces of colonialism and the influence andinvolvement of the West upon the AIDS situation in Uganda. As a result of this collusion AIDS isunderstood as intrinsically and naturally African. “It is as if HIV were a disease of Africannessa viral embodiment of a long legacy of colonial imagery which naturalizes the devastatingeconomic and social effects of European colonialism.”67 Thus, Africans get sick because theirsocieties are sick and their land is sick.68 Against a picture of its political, economic, social andcultural unviability, Africa is subjected to an unavoidable act of nature, AIDS, which emerges fromthe primordial nought and is visited upon a passive ever-suffering mass.An Inexplicable Medical Disaster?The truth of AIDS does lie somewhere amongst Hooper’s images of social, cultural, political andeconomic chaos and upheaval - war, political turmoil and corruption, run-down health facilities,the onset of modernity, large-scale population movement and so on - and a deepening andbroadening of context coupled with a reduction in the amount of recycled colonial rhetoric in histext would move him from a form of understanding of disease in Africa, as innate, that dates fromcolonial times, to an understanding whereby the roots of disease and illness are also seen to lie insystems of production and social reproduction, exploitation, political corruption andmismanagement, poverty and the exercise of global political and economic power. The causalchain would then be traced back beyond African ‘chaos’ and ‘miasma’ to include wider social,Institute of Mind and Behavior). I agree with the anti-simplicity and anti-dogma thrust of his argument. However,his template for understanding the ‘Third World’ in The Slow Plague is, as I hope I have shown, also limited,constrained, and dangerous in its connotations.67 Watney, S. 1990: ‘Missionary Positions: AIDS, “Africa”, and Race’ in R Ferguson et a! (eds), Out There:Marginalization and Contemporary Cultures (Cambridge, USA: MIT Press), p.86.68 Vaughan, M. 1991: Curing their Ills: Colonial Power and African Illness (London: Polity Press).89economic and political causes of ill-health. In this light, the text on the cover of Slim - “Thedramatic story of a journalist working in the heart of Africa who is caught up in the most terrifyingand inexplicable medical disaster of our time”69 - is exposed as sensationalism. An AIDS epidemicin Africa is hardly “inexplicable” if considered in the context of colonialism, decades of economicexploitation, long-running guerilla wars, internal political corruption and mismanagement, large-scale population movements and so on.Having analysed Slim as representation, it is important to touch down from this discursive realmand speculate on the likely effects of the portrayal of AIDS in Uganda in the book. For Hoopermade a determined attempt to bring the story to our attention. As a result, money was earned tocombat the illness in Uganda and, perhaps indirectly, others devoted time and money, newly awareof the problems in that country. Readers of the book and of the wider media discourse on ‘AIDSin Africa’ may also have altered their own sexual behaviour as a result of learning that AIDS wasnot just a disease confined to the four ‘Hs’. The representations may thus have saved lives, hereand in Africa. These positive points must, however, be balanced with the book’s negativefeatures, which are to be found on the symbolic and ideological level. Much of Hooper’s imagerydraws on and reinforces, perhaps inadvertently but methodically nevertheless, dangerous andderogatory elements of colonial discourse.7° His limited spatial and historical context colludeswith these elements to distance the Western reader from events in Uganda. Such a positioning mayprovoke feelings of hopelessness in the reader. This distancing is further compounded byHooper’s choice of literary form. His narrative approach to reality carries the implied promise of adramatic arc: the story will, like all stories, unfold and resolve. Spurr argues that this modepositions the audience as passive consumers, appreciative of the unfurling storyline, and the likely69 Slim, front cover.70 Hooper would no doubt counter these conclusions strongly, arguing, as in his reply to the criticisms of Watney,that readings of his book that lay stress upon its uncomfortable colonial echoes impose a meaning and intentionupon his words that he himself does not share and, in fact, actively detests. He is adamant and convincing in arguinghis love and concern for Uganda, and avoids patronisation in doing so. However, he is writing within a loaded andexplosive discursive nexus and, at times, does not seem sufficiently reflexive enough to escape the literary pull of‘Africa’, the colonial imaginary. This usage is not necessarily intentional but it is, perhaps, indicative of the way somuch of this imagery is almost taken for granted and seen as neutral common knowledge in the West, when it is, infact, under closer examination positively bristling with derogatory connotations and value-laden implications.Interview with Ed Hooper, 16/2/94.90effect when the narrative centres on ‘AIDS in Africa’ is to further distance and dislocate the readerfrom complicity in the text and dampen any desire to intervene or act.71 The situation will playitself out without the intervention of readers, leaving them free to appreciate the Third World victimaesthetics on display. The changed or reinforced attitudes resulting from the workings of the texton a symbolic and ideological level are, however, far less tangible than the possible positive effectsoutlined above. These attitudes are capable of manifesting themselves as very real effects too; forexample, as already discussed, allowing Africa to be positioned and used as human agar plate.72But the positive/negative balance of the text? Impossible to say. It is more important to unpick,learn from and intervene in its often dangerous and offensive rhetorical and representationalstrategies and tactics.71 p.4.5.72 Patton, C. 1991: Inventing AIDS (New York: Routledge), p.86.91Diseconomies of Production: the literal construction ofSlimCommodifyingCritiques of representations of ‘AIDS in Africa’, like the one above, rarely consider the contextfrom which representations emerge, and this lack is a central weakness of much of the work on the‘AIDS in Africa’ as covered in the Western media. However, Slim provides a first person accountof the construction of ‘facts’ and ‘knowledge’ about, and representations of, AIDS in Uganda, andit yields a considerable amount of information on the mechanics of the same discourse of which itforms a part. I therefore intend to revisit the text and re-examine it for the details it provides aboutthe conditions that give rise to and facilitate Hooper’s representations in Slim, in his photographsand stories, and other Western media representations that arise from the same geographical areaand feed into the same discursive moment. This revisitation allows these representations to besituated and embodied within a very real economy of production.The news and, more generally, representations of ‘AIDS in Africa’ emerge from a complex web offactors stemming from the interaction between reporter and source - generally, in this discourse, aEuropean or North American white male with considerable infrastructural support meeting theurbanised African ‘poor’. The journalist is therefore enmeshed in an interaction criss-crossed bycultural and ethnic differences, mis/interpretation and power imbalances, and there is rarelyreflection on these complex conditions of access. The mechanics of construction of this discourseare thus centrally rooted in a particular diseconomy - of capital, access, movement, and perception- and a particular set of asymmetrical relations of power, since control over the telling of the story,and any financial or personal benefit that arises from this telling, rest heavily on the journalist’sside of the interaction. These diseconomies and asymmetries are the subject of the second part ofmy discussion of Slim.92However, though ‘Africans’ are, I believe, subject to these diseconomies and asymmetries, theyare not merely passive, silent subjects of the ‘AIDS in Africa’ discourse. In Slim, nativeUgandans make many attempts to shape its form, and they enter the discourse, it seems, because itoffers hope they will be heard, even in a distorted fashion, at a global level. However, as the bookalso shows, Ugandans enter this discourse on incredibly unequal personal terms. Thus, thoughthis discourse arises out of an interaction, the balance of economic and social power is heavily, butnot totally, stacked on the journalist’s side. Internationally, Ugandan voices will perhaps be seenas unreliable or ‘biased’. As Haraway argues, it is only those with social power - like scientistsand journalists - who can be seen as objective! And, of course, Africa does not possess theeconomic and media power to make a significantly loud impact upon the global ‘AIDS in Africa’discourse itself. Locally, as Ugandans speak to Hooper, he is in the position of control. He setsthe language for the interaction and ultimately decides how the individual will appear in hisrepresentations, if at all. He states “in most cases the protagonists of Slim speak with their ownvoices, as transcribed from the sixty hours of recordings which I made”, but he ignores the factthat asymmetries of power structure these encounters.73Many examples of resistance to Hooper’s work can also be noted in Slim, including: African mediaattacks upon the Western press over their coverage of ‘AIDS in Africa’, which Hooper reads andrecords; looks and expressions which make him uncomfortable as he goes about his work;comments about his exploitative and domineering movements; and shouts across a room - Hooperis berated with the call “Look at Moneyman” as he enters a brothel to carry out an interview.74Hooper does not reflect on these apparent resistances, or even appear to notice some of them -largely because he is, indeed, “Moneyman”, and therefore able to wield a considerable amount ofsocial and economic power in order to force through or disregard resistance. Until, of course, heis thrown out of Uganda by the authorities! The Ugandan government holds final sway overHooper but until his expulsion he seems able to move fairly freely around the country, although heis not always able to gain access to government officials. He is also able to file reports as heSlim, p.xv.‘ Ibid., p.313.93would wish, without too many constraints, either externally or internally imposed. But journalistic‘truth’ does emerge from a complex and deeply political web and Hooper is, of course, undercertain systemic pressures to say only so much or to frame his stories in particular ways in order tobe heard. I, however, concentrate on the tangible mechanics of discourse construction here butrecognise the intangible complexity that lies beyond the boundaries of Slim. I am dealing with avery specific discursive moment and as the evidence I cite from Slim and the media representationsincluded in the next chapter show, the balance of power, but not all power, does seem to lie withHooper and his fellow journalists.75Thus, while asymmetrical relations of power are inherent to the ‘AIDS in Africa’ discourse andunderpin its narration, they are rarely reflected upon in the stories themselves. In Slim, there isvery little discussion of colonialism, neo-colonialism or the economic imbalances that would haveprovided the context for looper’s presence in Uganda, his ability to move freely around thecountry and to see, photograph and question officials, people with AIDS and the general public.These asymmetries are also excluded from Slim and the media representations by the intertwiningsets of rhetoric predominantly used to tell the ‘AIDS in Africa’ story. Colonial rhetoric disguisesits aggressive, dominatory intentions and often eliminates or distances the colonial agent throughits literary form. Journalistic rhetoric, too, performs a similar function. “The standard journalisticforms do not easily permit reflection on the conditions - technological, economic, historical - thatmake reporting possible.”76 Advantage is inherent in the reporter’s position and can be read inhis/her mobile presence in Africa. They have gained relatively easy access to the ‘isolated’ areaand will, usually, leave with the same ease. However, this easy and affective presence is erasedwhen journalists position themselves in their stories as a passive observing eye, neither affectingthe events they observe nor implicated in them in any way at all. Lack of reflexivity thereforebecomes key in this story about story tellers. This lack becomes all the more ridiculous, but‘7 This is not always the case. See, for example, David Lamb’s book The Africans written after he returned from afour-year spell as that continent’s correspondent for the Los Angeles Times. He is able to write much more freely,and politically, without worrying about having his journalist’s visa revoked. Lamb, D. 1989: The Africans(Mandarin: London).76 Spurr, D. 1993: The Rhetoric of Empire: Colonial Discourse in Journalism. Travel Writing, and ImperialAdministration (Durham, USA: Duke University Press), p.14.94dangerous, considering the evidence contained in Slim pointing to the intrinsically situated natureof all representations.As a result of this rhetorical effacement of presence and the concomitant diseconomies andasymmetries that both enable presence and allow its subsequent effacement in the representationsthat emerge, information about the mechanics of discourse construction can only be glimpsed in theparts of Slim where Hooper lets down his journalistic guard and personally reflects on his positionin Uganda. This section seeks to assemble these ‘glimpses’ in order to better situate therepresentations forming the ‘AIDS in Africa’ media discourse and construct a more realistic anddetailed picture of the context from which such representations emerge. In the light of this context,the contradictions in the journalistic rhetoric used to convey these representations become stark.The first, and perhaps the key, diseconomy in the production of the media discourse on ‘AIDS inAfrica’ is the simple fact that the stories and photographs generated are commodities forconsumption. Those whose lives and bodies form these representations may gain, eventually,from them; for example, if raised awareness of the problem of AIDS leads to aid being sent by thereaders of the stories, or if they lobby their own politicians having been piqued to action by themedia reports. The above sentence is, however, full of ‘ifs’ and ‘mays’. In contrast, tangible anddefinite financial and personal gain will accrue to the journalist or photographer who constructs therepresentations and to their media organisation who will sell newspapers on the back of the ‘AIDSin Africa’ story. And yet, all traces of this gain are effaced in the final media representationsthemselves.The capital and personal gains from these stories, and the ethical questions involved therein, arenot reflected upon in the media discourse, where the construction of representation is more oftencouched in a questing and crusading rhetoric than any mention of profit or exploitation. In Slim,looper frames his journalism as helping ‘the common man’, and this is an undoubted offshootsometimes, but he himself also gets money and recognition from the misfortunes of others. Theseless altruistic motivations can be glimpsed in the book. For example, in passing, there is an95admission of the central nature of ‘AIDS in Africa’ stories and photographs as commodities whenHooper teams up with a news photographer to travel around an area in Uganda supposedly worsthit by Slim. Hooper declares: “because Paul wanted to build up his stockpile of AIDS photos, wespent the rest of the day calling in at villages along the road back to Masaka, and then followingdirections to the nearest Slim household.”77 These photographs were thus commoditiesappropriated from that area. They will lead to financial gain for the photographer, but there is noguarantee of any return at all for the people whose images appear in them.78This appropriation of photographs is a local example of wider asymmetries of power andimbalances in systems of ‘knowing’ about ‘AIDS in Africa’. How we, Western readers, knowwhat we do about the situation in Africa is based centrally on appropriation - of blood, quotes,photographs and statistics. We are fortunate since we reside on the powerful side of theimbalance, the side where economic, media and scientific capital and resources largely rest andthus the side with the power to dictate the patterns and methods of ‘knowing’ about andrepresenting AIDS. This appropriation underpins Slim, and it has been noticed in Uganda andeloquently relayed to Hooper. He visits the Rakai district administrator who laments that “anumber of Ugandan and foreign specialists have called into this district and taken blood samples.But that is the end of it. They do not come back to us with results. Personally I see us as beingused as a source for experiments in the developed world.”79 Later, he goes to visit a muchinterviewed Ugandan nurse, Sister Nellie Carvalho, who is specialising in the treatment of peoplewith AIDS. She states that “many journalists had come to fill their notebooks, but few had helpedthem in real terms with the crisis they were facing.”8°‘Slim, p.151.78 need to add that I gain on the back of these media representations of ‘AIDS in Africa’ too, and therefore,indirectly, upon the people appearing within them - hopefully a qualification. The above argument therefore appliesequally in the social sciences and science too. The balance for each of us - myself, Hooper and the media in general -when an attempt to represent ‘AIDS in Africa’ swings from altruistic assistance to exploitation, is impossible todetermine. It is perhaps evident from the main text, however, where I feel that the balance lies for the media ingeneral - on the side of exploitation - and I also take issue with the effacement of the commodified nature of therepresentations appearing in the press. Hooper’s case is far more complex since he is, at least, frank and open aboutthe gains he can expect from the representations he produces. It is for my readers to judge me.‘ Slim, p.22.80 Ibid., p.188.96Other journalistic motivations, aside from the financial, are evident elsewhere in the text:“Early in 1985, I left for Sudan. As chance would have it, my timing was good, forwithin the next two months, President Nimeiri was ousted in a bloodless coup aftersixteen years in power, and shortly afterwards the terrible sub-Saharan famine became,to most people’s surprise, perhaps the major news story of 1985. I got some Guardianfront pages, I placed stories in several other magazines and newspapers, and the BBCtook me on as their (unsalaried) stringer in Khartoum.”81The “terrible” famine is thus directly, perhaps accidentally, but honestly, equated with front pagesand a better job. Similarly: “The next four weeks were hectic: there were so many good topics forarticles and broadcasts.”82 These “good topics” include the so-called “monkey boy of Naguru”who turns out, disappointingly for looper, to be “mentally retarded, not raised by apes”, and aviolent guerilla liberation of the town of Juba in Sudan. “Good” for whom is the obvious questionto ask here!83MovingRepresentations of ‘AIDS in Africa’ thus emerge within a context of commodification and possibleexploitation. This large scale economic imbalance is played out on a local level by the relative easewith which the journalist is able to gain access to the area of the story, their ability to move aroundthe country, and the manner in which they are apparently able to command time, space, people andresources in their search for news, often for little financial remuneration for those so commanded.Just as the power to tell the ‘AIDS in Africa’ story largely resides with a particular set oforganisations and countries, so the balance of power to move and see rests with the journalist.These conditions of access mark an exclusion from the reality of those living with AIDS or ingeneral poverty in Uganda, and they lead to a very particular telling of the story, but one presentedas the truth of the situation. However, a whole host of economic resources and exploitative81 Ibid., p.10.82 Ibid., p.27.83 Geographers demonstrate similarly opportunistic and selfish reactions to misfortune. Smailman-Raynor et al readlike academic vultures when they declare “to be able to capture in map form the first recorded decade of any ‘new’disease is a rare privilege.” Smallman-Raynor, M., Cliff, A. D. and Haggett, P. 1992: London International Atlasof AIDS (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers), p.viii.97mechanisms have been brought in to play for the journalist simply to arrive on the scene andperceive the events described - only then for this presence and these conditions of access to beimmediately effaced in the telling of the story. Hooper’s choice of literary format grants himpresence in the text and allows him to document these conditions of access, revealing thefrequently imperious and imperial manner in which he goes about his work. He forgets that noteveryone shares this belief in the importance of his quest.For example, on one trip Hooper makes to Kasensero and the surrounding area, he teams up withthe French news photographer Roland Neveu and “Joseph, a lanky man from Karamoja in northeastern Uganda who had become his driver and general factotum on what was intended to be afreewheeling four-day safari through western Uganda.”84 The journey proves difficult as theroads are bad - potholes and ruts once more riddle the text - “It looked more like a cart-track than aroad, and not surprisingly Joseph, together with his prized Fiat 125, grew exasperated long beforethe rest of us. . . Joseph became ever more heated and protective of his machine.”85 But the twojournalists pay no heed and push on for the story. “The ruts were fewer now, but still viciouswhen met with a full load; after one particularly crunching encounter, Joseph stopped the car andsaid he was turning back. Collective persuasion had to be used.”86 Collective persuasion! Onceagain, white explorers push Ugandan bearers to their limits in a journey across the country.Joseph stands to gain little from this trip but minor expenses and the possible destruction of hiscar. For the journalists, the possible personal and financial gain is considerable. That eveningthey are also able to impose themselves upon the extreme goodwill of another local, who probablystill regrets the day they showed up at his house. “By the time we arrived at Nazareth, Joseph hadalready launched into his speech of celebration and introduction which cunningly obliged theincumbent, Father Eugenio K. Lukwata, to provide us four ‘newspaper personalities’ with bothsupper and a bed for the night.”87 The next day they are able to persuade the Father to use his ownvehicle to take them further in their quest for a story and pictures. And, after one journey down a84 Slim, p.27.85 Ibid., p.33.86 Ibid., p.35.87 Ibid., p.42.98steep hill, “it was noticeable that the good father was starting to make noises about his engine notunlike Joseph’s of the previous day.”88Infuriatingly, Hooper never seems to reflect on this resistance. He possesses the social power toblindly push on in pursuit of the news. When he finally arrives in Kasensero the quietness of theplace frustrates his need for information. “Then Joseph had the splendid idea of calling a villagemeeting. It took place in the shade of Kasensero’s one large tree, and was attended by three orfour dozen men and women, not all of whom seemed overjoyed at being summoned away fromtheir normal pursuits.”89 Hooper here actually seems surprised at the lack of joy exhibited at hissummons! Here we have one man who has pushed two cars to their limits, gained beds and foodfor four people and called a village meeting, no doubt leading to loss of work for those summoned.To this disruption and exploitation can be added the similar upsets caused on his other trips roundUganda, including the time given to him in interviews by the many individuals directly involved inthe fight against AIDS.9° A similar amount of disruption was presumably caused by the otherjournalists chasing the same story. The discourse may have positive effects, as already discussed,but its construction is largely, so far, at the literal expense of its subjects. In these sections ofSlim, Uganda and its people seem to be mere props or tools, the stage setting for the narrativedrama Hooper is enacting. He possesses the power to orchestrate, command and move; using andexploiting time, space, money and people. His power stems from a variety of sources, includingeconomic, cultural and historical/colonial factors. He also visits these areas as a bearer of hope andperceived journalistic authority. He himself represents a culture with the economic power toalleviate the situation he encounters and his presence offers the chance that this culture - hisaudience - will hear, learn and respond.88 Ibid., p.55.89 Ibid., p.56.90 Jean William Pape, a leading AIDS researcher in Haiti reports to the Panos Institute, “I have given over 60interviews to American and other reporters about AIDS in Haiti. It is very time-consuming and exhausting, andtakes energy I would like to put into my work, Of all those interviews there are only one or two that recorded what Isaid, and the context in which I said it, accurately.” Sabatier, R. 1988: Blaming Others: Prejudice. Race andWorldwide AIDS (Washington: Panos Institute), p.90.99The examples above largely speak for themselves. Journalists and photographers are patently notpassive or non-affective, despite the rhetoric that is used to relay their representations. The contextfrom which the media representations of ‘AIDS in Africa’ emerge is thus further composed ofparticular conditions of journalistic access riven with acts of domination, subordination andappropriation in the name of stories which offer their subjects no guarantee of compensatory gain.SeeingOn a global scale, media representations of ‘AIDS in Africa’ can be situated within an overarchingcontext which sees them as appropriated commodities for consumption, with the financial andpersonal gain from their construction most likely to accrue to those who produced them. At amedium scale, the further context within which these representations are constructed is a set ofjournalistic conditions of access to the area supplying the story. These conditions are underpinnedby asymmetrical relations of power, which enable the journalist to command space, gain easyaccess to the area and exert control over people and resources. Then, once the journalist hasgained access to the area, they need to see and to look. Reporting begins with looking and visualobservation is the essence of the reporter’s function as witness. This looking is underpinned byexactly the same asymmetrical relations of power that enabled the journalist to arrive upon thescene, and, as Spurr notes, these unequal relations have been playing themselves out in colonialdiscourse for centuries. The eye of the writer and its technological extension, the camera, havealmost always been able to penetrate the interior spaces of non-European peoples and explore theirbodies and faces with relative freedom, impunity and inequality.91 The exertion of this samediseconomy of power still gives the journalist and photographer an extraordinary degree of accessto interiors, bodies, faces and situations.The journalistic gaze in this discourse is a penetrative, privileged and powerful one and acts toplace the reader - often, I feel, uncomfortably - in the same voyeuristic position assumed by thejournalist or photographer. The objects of this gaze, those who appear in the representations, are91 Spurr, D. 1993: The Rhetoric of Empire: Colonial Discourse in Journalism, Travel Writing, and ImperialAdministration (Durham, USA: Duke University Press), p.19.100gazed upon, but denied the power of the gaze; and spoken to, but denied the power to speak freely.The representations of ‘AIDS in Africa’ that emerge therefore do so from a disproportionateeconomy of sight. Hooper, once again, seems to deem it his journalistic right to gain visual accessto the interiors and bodies he then uses in his representations. But the impact of this access islikely to be less tangible than a damaged car or the stolen time that results from his movementsaround Uganda. Instead, in some of the examples that follow, the disproportionate economy ofsight manifests itself as psychological terrorism and crass invasion of privacy. This invasionmakes an absolute mockery of the effacement of journalistic presence that then occurs as therepresentations are constructed for publication in the media.The AIDS ‘safari’I have already discussed some of Hooper’s exploitative movements on his trips to Rakai,Kasensero and Kyebe. The above 1987 trip to these areas made with Roland Neveu turns out tobe a key moment for the ‘AIDS in Africa’ media discourse, since it generates several stories andphotos of people with Slim that were then used and shown widely in Europe and North America.These stories and images then led to many other journalists travelling to the area in the followingmonths to produce similar stories - ‘AIDS in Africa’ and the supposed heterosexual nature of theepidemic had become news. In Slim, Hooper documents this trip in detail and describes both hismovements and the moments where he and Neveu capture photographic images and find stories.This section of the book thus becomes key for understanding and contextualising the mediadiscourse, since formative representations can be traced through from their germination in Ugandaand in the interaction between Hooper, Neveu and their subjects through to their appearance on theprinted page.Hooper commonly frames these trips as “safaris” and this is also a theme picked up by a Ugandancompanion on a previous search for stories when looper is about to depart on his first trip intoRakai to check the Slim story. He grins, nervously and with a feeling of adventure. His localjournalist companion then declares, astutely and perhaps ironically, “I see Eddie is very happy on101safari.”92 Later, as Hooper travels with Neveu on the key trip to Kyebe and Kasensero, hehimself uses the same trope in a highly reflexive manner. As he arrives in Kyebe with Neveu hestates, “I caught myself wondering how many of these people had Slim. Surely the woman overthere: that’s more than just high cheekbones, I thought. Then I realised that we were staringoutwards like a coachload of tourists on safari.”93 Here Hooper has exposed the diseconomiesthat underpin his presence in Kyebe and the construction of the ‘AIDS in Africa’ media discourse.A ‘safari’ is an extremely good simile given the ease of access and departure he enjoys, thedisproportionate economy of sight which allows him to survey, gaze and photograph, and thegiddy and excited yearning he exhibits as he nears the area where he might see a person withAIDS. Sadly, this is as far as his reflection goes. Hooper quickly resumes his hunt, with this onemoment of self-awareness forgotten and all notions of reflexivity gone as he then resorts tolanguage echoing that of a colonial hunter stalking his prey.“We had still not encountered a single person who actually had Slim disease. Andwhen we eventually did, it was almost by accident. It was late afternoon, and we wereon our way to drop John back in Sanje, when the village grapevine led us to the houseof Joseph Kasolo. Joseph, an emaciated man in his mid-thirties, had been very sick forabout four months with fever and diarrhoea . . . he told us in a quiet, dignified voicethat he had been to the local hospital, where he had been told that he had typhoid.‘That’s what I believe. I don’t have any evidence to show that I’m suffering fromanything else.’ [except, perhaps, the fact that he now has two European journalistsstanding in his hut!J . . . Joseph Kasolo was typical of many of the apparent Slimpatients we encountered. There was no absolute medical proof that he had AIDS,rather than typhoid or some other disease. . . the only real evidence was that offered bycommon sense, by our own laymen’s eyes.”94Hooper and Neveu, in their quest for stories and photos, here gain access to the interior and bodyof a Uganda villager. Their gaze then labels the man terminally ill. Their presence in this hut, as92 Slim, p.19.Ibid., p.36.Ibid., p.31.102they take photographs and ask questions, is a sign of an inordinate asymmetry of power. Aftertheir earlier reflection upon the disproportionate economy of sight they are allowed, here theyemploy it to the full in order to obtain a representation of ‘AIDS [or typhoidi in Africa’. The twomen then move on, searching for more stories and images. Four important and extraordinarymoments follow, where the disproportionate economy of sight manifests itself again, producingseveral representations which later appear widely in the Western media. These representationsgerminate within the broad context of commodification, the drive for personal and financial gain,and the unequal conditions of access and exploitation which brought Hooper and Neveu to thisarea. Hooper then provides, again unreflexively, an incredible amount of information about thevery specific context and economy of sight within which each representation emerges. Littleexplanation is required for each moment - they are shockingly self-explanatory in the context theyprovide for the media discourse. However, for each situation I like to imagine the reversepossibility, so, for example, when Hooper gatecrashes a Ugandan funeral, I imagine a car-load ofUgandan journalists arriving uninvited at an English funeral. This exposes the ludicrous butdangerous asymmetries of power that operate and underpin this media discourse, and the invasionsof privacy manifested in the name of the journalistic quest.1. A Widow and a FuneralAfter visiting the man above, Hooper and Neveu move on to Kyebe. When they arrive they findthe town quiet. They discover that most people are attending the funeral of an important official,believed to have died of Slim and so, quickly, they get someone to lead them there. Upon arrivalthey start to take photographs of the crowd and interview bystanders - the man has just beenburied. Then Hooper approaches the grieving widow and commandeers the local ResistanceCommittee chairman, Joseph Ssebyoto-Lutaya, to help him question her. One of his questions isthe amazingly crass: “Perhaps you could ask the widow how she thinks her husband got sick?”95He also declares, “It is relatively easy for journalists to overstep the boundaries of good taste andbe excused on the grounds that they are merely seeking out the truth, and this was probably oneIbid., p.37.103such occasion. Dispensing with any further attempt at discretion, I asked, ‘What about thewidow? How is she feeling?’”96Here the two journalists have gained unauthorised access to a private funeral, commandeeredpeople in this quest, interrogated the widow and excused their intrusion by resorting, again, tounreflexive journalistic rhetoric that couches invasion in the name of a search for the Truth, andallows them to move by a completely different set of moral and ethical rules. They are met withastonishing grace and forbearance, because, it seems, they at least offer hope and a chance thatthese people’s problems will be heard at a higher level.2. FlorenceHaving visited the funeral, Hooper and Neveu acquire an entourage of curious followers as theysearch for someone with Slim to interview and photograph. The ‘grapevine’ suggests they visitthe house of Florence Nassaka.“The caravan - for such it now felt - set off on foot to search out the house of FlorenceNassaka. . . If there was a single encounter which was to sum up the whole of our tripto Kyebe, and which was to render Slim the preoccupation it became for me, it was ourmeeting with Florence Nassaka and her two-month old son, Ssengabi . . . As soon aswe emerged from the trees we saw them sitting outside her house in the sunshine. Andyet it was a chilling tableau they presented, with Ssengabi, loosely wrapped in a cottonsheet, lying in Florenc&s lap, her long fingers cradling his head from behind . . . shelooked exhausted and shrunken, the skin drawn taut round her skull, and her eyesbetraying a deep languor. . .he was pitifully tiny, like a famine victim . . . Nobodycould doubt that both mother and son were dying.”97Here, it seems, Hooper and Neveu have found what they are looking for - a powerful andelemental image of suffering which will be both new and shocking to their readers in the West,since the cause of the suffering is believed to be Slim or AIDS, a ‘new’ disease to hit Africa. The96 Ibid., p.39.“ Ibid., pp.47-48.104image is also ‘appropriate’ in that the sufferer is a woman, and makes the required point that AIDScan strike both sexes - the ‘lesson’ to be drawn from the situation in Africa. However, the image,though ‘new’, must still make sense to the viewer within the wider context of Africa mediaimagery. This scene has been seen many many times before in the media, captured to show the‘human effects’ of famine, war or previous epidemic diseases. This example of cMja vu means thatAIDS is thus symbolised here as essence of Africa - simply the next woe in a long line of innateAfrican misfortunes to produce such suffering. Africa, the place, is once again portrayed as sceneof elemental pain, and poignant but hopeless travail. And Slim, the disease, is abstracted from anymeaningful context and individualised in the body of the stereotypical long-suffering Africanwoman. The image may be trying to teach ‘us’ a lesson, but it perhaps ultimately fails because ofthis abstraction, which merely acts to reinforce stereotypes and prevent an understanding of Slimwhich sees it as arising from a particular and specific set of historical and economic circumstances.I will discuss these issues in more detail in the next chapter when I examine the final mediarepresentations of Florence resulting from this visit. Photographs of Florence appeared in TheIndependent, Newsweek, The Washington Post, Africa Report and Slim itself, captioned in avariety of ways and placed within the frames of very different stories. Of course, all traces of thecontext within which the representation emerged are effaced.Having turned up on Florence’s doorstep with an entourage and realised that this scene providesthem with the meaning they are looking for, the two men need to capture the scene. This raises adilemma for Hooper.“For a reporter or photographer, the recording of sickness and death always presents adilemma. Should one treat such subjects as somehow sacred, and therefore unsuitablefor public consumption, or should one simply attempt to depict them as one would anyother topic, with professional detachment and candour? Some months later theUgandan government, eager to protect AIDS patients from the glare of mediaattentions, adopted a policy that prohibited the photographing of people with AIDS. Onbalance, however, I feel that we were right, that day in Kyebe, to use film and tape to105record the brutal realities of Slim; for Florence had agreed, and in the end permissionwas surely hers to grant or withhold.”98This is true, but only in a limited sense. Did Florence know exactly what she was agreeing to?What followed for her was a gruelling ordeal, and her image eventually appeared widely in Europeand North America, making a considerable amount of money for Hooper. He described to me, indetail, the process by which he obtained permission from Florence.99 This involved asking thevillage headman to translate for him and meant that Florence and her child, in her weakened state,were confronted with a large crowd, wealthy European strangers, and the most powerful man inthe area. This imbalance and intrusion throws a very different light upon the issue of permission.Hooper is well aware of the flaws in this process and the power he wielded that meant permissionwould, surely, be granted. However, he feels that the use of Florence’s image would save lives -in Africa and in the West - and if he could have conveyed this to her she would have grantedpermission under more acceptable circumstances. Maybe she would have done, and maybe theimage did save lives; although I believe its stereotypical nature limits its effectiveness as a warningabout the danger AIDS presents to heterosexuals. This, however, is speculation. The truth of theimage of Florence is that it was taken in circumstances shot through with diseconomies of powerand sight. Real people were affected and probably intimidated and upset by this appropriation.This generational context is effaced by the time the representation appears in the media ascommodity.Having obtained, in highly dubious fashion, Florence’s permission to ‘shoot’, the disproportionateeconomies of sight and access underpinning and enabling the situation suddenly become manifestin a frightening fashion. The harsh and specific context within which media representations of‘AIDS in Africa’ emerge is laid bare in the paragraph which follows. Hooper states:“Nevertheless, I also know that I participated in something of a media rape. For thenext fifteen minutes, barely containing our excitement, Roland and I photographed themother and child from every angle, with every lens. Cameras clicked and whirred,98 Ibid., p.48.Interview with Ed Hooper, 16/2/94.106pausing only for the changing of films. There was the occasional muttered curse whenone blocked the other from his desired shot. And when all that was finished, I tookover with microphone and tape recorder.”100This is the shocking manner in which the media image was obtained - readers are unwittingaccomplices to a rape. Hooper had earlier stated that the scene would be recorded with“professional detachment and candour”. The hollow nature of such rhetoric and the gap it managesto build between supposed objective absence and horrific affective presence is here exposed instark fashion. looper and Neveu’s masculinist gaze, powered by an extreme disproportionateeconomy of sight, is brought violently to bear in obtaining the media representations, objectifyingthis woman and visually raping her. All traces of the rape are removed by the time the imageappears in the media. Hooper’s partial honesty and reflection in this paragraph make him fullyconscious of the asymmetries of power which operate and enable him to obtain this representationof ‘AIDS in Africa’. He refers, in passing, to two aspects of the real, brutal context within whichthis representation emerges: personal excitement at the nature of the ‘story’ and the possible gainthat will come from it; and the diseconomies of sight and access that allow him to take theseimages. However, he is still only reflective up to a certain, limited point; a rapist who merelyknows why he is able to rape.Having captured Florence’s image on film, Hooper then attempts to interview her, through aninterpreter, but “even speaking, it seemed, tired her.”101 This is hardly surprising considering hercondition and the ordeal she has just suffered. Again, this very real impact of journalist uponsubject makes a mockery of the passive, non-affective rhetorical stance taken in the ‘AIDS inAfrica’ media articles.“Some minutes later, we took our leave of Florence and her family, Roland and I gavesome money, something which I, at least, was not in the habit of doing. On one level itwas a simple gesture of assistance to people whom we had met, and who were in ahopeless situation. On another, of course, it was payment to help ease our100 jj p.4.8.101 Ibid., p.47.107consciences. And it was certainly something we could afford. As Roland said later,with typical Gallic pragmatism: ‘Wow, this is really a big story.”°2Hooper once again refers to the asymmetries of power which constantly underpin his presence andability to represent: this time, his economic dominance. Throughout this section he reflects uponthe conditions and imbalances that allow him to capture these images and at times he seemsuncomfortable exploiting them. But this is as far as his reflexivity ever seems to go. He does notseem willing to alter his behaviour, merely justifying it with post-hoc excuses, rhetoric and money.The nature of the case traps him in a tension between the supposedly objective nature of his workand the harsh, and in this case exploitative, reality within which his representations are actuallygenerated, forcing reflection upon him. He is, however, able to overcome these moments of self-doubt with the above justifications. Thus, he leaves the scene with a troubled conscience, but goeson to repeat the experience within the next half an hour.3. MirinaFive minutes after photographing and interviewing Florence, Hooper and Neveu learn of anotherfuneral about to take place nearby.“Mirina, a twenty-three-year-old peasant farmer, was laid out on a bed in the frontroom of the family house; her body was wrapped in a shroud of bark-cloth . . . Besideher, the women of the house knelt and wept; occasionally one of them would move herhead from side to side, and emit a soft keening sound. Roland took a remarkable photofrom the foot of the death-bed, showing Mirina’s face wrapped in bark-cloth, and thatof a young mourner leaning her head resignedly against the bed-frame. There is naturallight from a small window above, through which the faces of other young children canbe made out. Two months later, this photograph was printed across a quarter-page ofThe Times of London, with the caption: ‘Too young to know, too sick to move:Ugandan children, stricken with AIDS, await their end inside a mud hut, far from102 Ibid., p.49.108doctors who could not give them much help anyway.’ Sometimes, one wonders howthe picture departments of large newspapers and magazines actually arrive at theircaptions.”°3This example reveals many of the same mechanics of discourse construction as the previous twomoments when representations of ‘AIDS in Africa’ emerged. Hooper and Neveu exploit the sameconditions of access and intrusion as when photographing Florence, and, as before, fail to reflectdeeply upon this intrusion. They maintain an imperious right to be present at a private funeral.The same disproportionate economy of sight allows them to capture an interior and bodily image.And they are effective again, with Neveu staging the photograph and moving people around inorder to obtain a more powerful picture. Once more, Ugandans become mere props in the processof obtaining a media representation. I will discuss the photograph later, but its nature ascommodity is exposed by the fact that its meaning is up for semantic grabs once it enters themarketplace. Ironically, given the caption imposed upon it by The Times, children were the groupleast at risk from Slim. Presumably, however, the picture editor thought his or her version of the‘facts’ were more dramatic.4. BeatriceHooper and Neveu move on:“Another short walk, another victim. Beatrice Namuddu, twenty-four years of age,was the most severely affected of all the sick people we had seen. We were invited intothe small room where she lay on a bed of straw, like an animal. She had been laid therebecause of the severe diarrhoea from which she was suffering: in the small, airlessroom, the smell was almost overpowering. We took photographs. Her mother came inand pulled up her blouse, so we could see the skin of her stomach and breasts, coveredwith dark blotches, and hanging like a curtain draped loosely between her hips. Shehad no more weight to lose; her whole body was trembling. Her neck was swollen,presumably form oral candidiasis, or thrush, in the wind-pipe - her breath came out in103 Ibid., p.50.109short gasps. A large part of her right cheek had been eaten away by an ulcer; yellowfluid was oozing down over her jaw-line . . . she followed me with her eyes as Imoved around the room. I felt embarrassed. . . Those eyes!. . . The eyes showedwhat? Not fear - there was no fear there. But there was pain, and there wassadness. “104This final example is perhaps the most disturbing. The two men here exploit to the full their abilityto gain an extraordinary degree of access to interiors, and the bodies of women. Their voyeuristicgaze is able to penetrate Beatrice’s clothing, with her mother lifting her daughter’s blouse out of theway so they are able to photograph her wounds, stomach and breasts. At this point I feel theimbalance in the economy of sight reaches a sickening level. These men should not have been inthat house taking those photographs. Then Hooper’s gaze is returned by Beatrice and this smallact, perhaps of resistance, is enough to cause him to reflect again upon the intrusive andexploitative nature of his presence in these places and situations. He is rightfully embarrassed,but, as before, takes no action and does nothing to modify his behaviour accordingly. Hisdicomfiture is, I believe, an indication that he is aware of both the extreme imbalance in power thatunderpins the encounter and the ultimately exploitative nature of his presence in the room.However, he never fully reflects upon the implications of this realisation for his actions and work,and instead salves his conscience with rhetoric, self-justification and, sometimes, money.ConclusionThese four moments occurred in frighteningly quick succession in the space of a single afternoon.Each one gives the detailed and specific context from which particular media representations of‘AIDS in Africa’ emerged, and allows the reader to see behind the journalistic rhetoric ofobjectivity and passivity within which the final versions are couched. It is evident that thesejournalists’ work depends centrally upon their intrusion into the private space of others.105 InUganda, Hooper possesses the social power, drawn from a variety of sources, that allows him to104 Ibid., p.51.105 Youngs, T. 1991: “Framed in the doorway’; the Observer and the ‘Yemeni brides’ affair’ in Media. Culture andSociety 13,pp.239-47110do just this. These acts of intrusion are an extension of his ability to gain access to the areas wherethe stories originate. But then, because the subject of the journalistic quest is the ‘truth’ about, andrepresentations of, AIDS - an illness that writes on the body - the evidence that Hooper needs towitness dictates a further application and extension of the social power he possesses in order tolook at, photograph and objectify the bodies of Ugandan people with AIDS. More specifically,because ‘AIDS in Africa’ was deemed to be news in the West because of the supposedly ‘unusual’heterosexual nature of the disease on that continent, the evidence Hooper most needs to collect iswritten on the bodies of women. The nature of the story that looper is aiming to tell thereforeleads to an uncomfortable neo-colonial stand off, both in the mechanics of discourse construction,with an English man intruding upon and photographing African women, and in the representationsthat emerge, where stereotypes, of African women as noble elemental sufferers and Africa as siteof death and decay, are recycled and reinforced.’06The operation of this power-laden one-sided gaze is thus integral to Hooper’s function as journalistand photographer - it enables his representations of ‘AIDS in Africa’. He possesses the socialpower to construct visions from the bodies of others and rhetorically push them as ‘objective’, theTruth about AIDS. As the above examples show, this process of construction is neither objectivenor passive - anything but! Hooper’s gaze is situated and specific; penetrative and voyeuristic;violent, affective and intrusive. The result is an extreme disproportionate economy of sight.However, all traces of this diseconomy are effaced in the final media representations of ‘AIDS inAfrica’.These examples starkly expose the gap between the journalistic rhetoric of detached, professionalobjectivity and the actuality of his presence in these four situations. Hooper himself does reflectupon this gap and, at times, he seems well aware of the tension it creates. He is also occasionally106 “Western journalism is filled with situations where the observer, from an exterior position, views the bodies ofthe captured, imprisoned, incapacitated, or dead [and photographs them]. In the postcolonial era the dead or dyingbody has become in itself the visual sign of human reality in the Third World.” Spurr, D. 1993: The Rhetoric ofEmpire: Colonial Discourse in Journalism. Travel Writing, and Imperial Administration (Durham, USA: DukeUniversity Press), p.24. I believe that the stereotypical nature of many of the media representations of ‘AIDS inAfrica’ acts to undermine the function that looper intends for them: as a salutary lesson to the world that AIDS canaffect anyone. Instead, they act to individualise the disease and both embody and ‘other’ it within the ‘African’.111uncomfortable wielding the social power that allows him to be doing his job in that place. But,ultimately, he papers over this gap with self-justification and money, pushing on with the sameintrusive actions that led him to reflection, and holding to the rhetoric that these actions undermine.He would perhaps say that his representations save lives, and he may well be right.’07 However,there are semiotic flaws in these representations that will limit their life-saving effect. I will discussthis issue in the next chapter. I also believe that the same representations could have been obtainedwith much more sensitivity and much less intrusion. And, finally, even Hooper has severe doubtsabout this salvatory rhetorical stance at times.AffectingSo far, in this contextualisation of media representations of ‘AIDS in Africa’, I have concentratedupon the mechanics of construction of the discourse - specifically, the disproportionate economiesof capital, access, movement and perception that underpin and enable the telling of this story.Thus, the representations can be situated and embodied within the context of a very real economyof production. This contextualisation acts to counter the effacements and distanciations that occurin the way that the ‘AIDS in Africa’ story is predominantly told, in spatial and historical isolation,and in the rhetorics of ‘empire’ and journalism, with their presence-removing and agency-disguising tendencies, within which the story is couched. There is plenty of further evidence inSlim to suggest that, contrary to the isolationist treatment given to ‘AIDS in Africa’ in both Slimitself and many other media representations, journalists, and thus the organisations and nationsfrom which they come, should be an integral part of the story they tell. They are effective,involved and implicated in a number of key ways.Examples of looper’s economic exploitation and psychological terrorism have already been noted,thus making a mockery of any rhetorical claims to passivity or objectivity on the part of thejournalist. Slim provides other examples of similar affective, and probably typical, actions byHooper: actions that should have a major and direct impact on the story journalists tell about ‘AIDS107 Interview with Ed Hooper, 16/2/94.112in Africa’, but which are expelled from this discourse to remain dormant in the far margins ofHooper’s literary journalism and completely effaced in the Western media representations of thetime.I described earlier how information-hungry Hooper and Neveu call a town meeting when they visitKasensero, summoning people reluctantly from work. At the end of the meeting, their interpreterdeclares:“Though you are not doctors, they are waiting for your advice, if you can provide.’• . God! How journalists hate it when the tables are turned! I knew that I was notqualified to speak. And yet - here were people who had answered my questions, andwho were now asking for advice because they believed, probably rightly, that I wasbetter informed than they. Eventually, I gave a short lecture that identified sexualcontact and shared needles as the main methods of transmission, and recommended theobvious preventative measures. Roland suddenly looked up from his camera, andadded a few encouraging words - ‘Some of the best chemists and best doctors in theworld are really working very hard on this disease, to try to find some treatment.”108Hooper and Neveu are unable to maintain their aloof, acquisitive stance and are drawn into thewebs of information and meaning that surround ‘AIDS’ in all countries. Information thus does notjust pass from source to journalist, and Shoumatoffs reported conversation with smugglers in thesame area of Uganda indicate that he too was unable to remain passive when placed in the samesituation: “When are you going to bring the medicine?’ one of them asks. ‘We are dying.’ “Thereis no medicine yet,’ I say, ‘but we are working on it.”109Hooper returns to Kasensero several months later to conduct interviews with the general public, inorder to guage levels of ‘AIDS’ awareness in the town. He asks a fisherman:“But are there any people who have come and talked to the people of Kasensero, andexplained how it is possible to catch Slim?’ ‘Yes, very many times, they try to do so108 Slim, p.57.109 Shoumatoff, A. 1988: ‘In Search of the Source of AIDS’ in African Madness (New York: Knopt), p.196.113• . But most times they are news agencies, they are not doctors.? . . . It sounded as ifRoland and I were not the only ones to have become active participants in the story,rather than mere observers... ‘But John, if you know that, and that Slim has killed somany people already, then why are you sharing a woman with other men?’ Johnsighed briefly. .. ?J don’t have anything to do, really. I have to sleep with my girl ifshe comes.’ ‘But you told me you fear that you may already be infected.’ There was along pause. ‘I feel fine. And I’m suspecting the scientists and doctors to get sometreatments, according to the journalists. The journalists say so. So . . . why should Ifear much?’ His voice trailed off, and I remembered Roland’s brief message to thevillage meeting [which they calledj six months earlier. How ironical that perhaps hisfew words of hope had, through repetition, attained the status of scientific wisdom, andbeen used to maintain the sexual statusHooper does not seem to realise the full significance of this conversation. He is not a passiveobserver of the ‘AIDS in Africa’ story. He is very much an active participant, deeply implicated inthe actuality of the unfolding narrative via his actions and words. Yet this is neither reflected in themedia discourse, nor reflected upon. An evangelical spreading of false, or at least premature, hopein Western medical science may get them off the hook in the short term and make people feelbetter, but it will not promote, and may actively and dangerously discourage, the changes in sexualbehaviour necessary to prevent the spread of HIV.Then, at the end of their ‘AIDS safari’, Hooper and Neveu attend a church service in Kasensero.A local official addresses them directly in front of the crowd:“So gentlemen, as pressmen, as news reporters, try to report whatever you have seento the world community, especially to the international bodies such as World HealthOrganisation, UNICEF and so forth. I think through this, the rest of the people mightsurvive. Thank you very much for the great work you have done, and we wish you agood journey back.’ Everyone applauded, for Joseph was great at hearts and minds,110jjj, pp.141-142.114and for a few moments we felt like conquering heroes. The sad truth, however, wasthat our visit would actually have very little direct effect on the community, save forspawning a small service industry catering for the needs of visiting journalists.Whether our reports, and those that followed, had any longer-term effects on theinternational response to Uganda’s AIDS problem, we have no way of knowing. It ispleasant, though undeniably arrogant, to imagine that this might be the case.”1’The hope held by the Ugandans who chose to help Hooper on his safari is evident here, and thisseems to be one of the reasons why his sometimes exploitative, dominatory and intrusivebehaviour is tolerated. He is perhaps perceived as representing a direct connection with the socialand economic power to, if not solve, then at least alleviate the Slim problem. The above paragraphraises two key issues.First, Hooper again demonstrates partial reflection upon his own position in Kasensero. Hefrequently doubts his own rhetoric concerning the reasons for, impact of, and benefits likely toaccrue from his journalistic quest. This turmoil and tension weave themselves right through hisbook. The same pattern of Ugandan hope triggering journalistic doubts occur when Hooper visitsKyebe. He speaks to a Moslem elder who asks why he is there and Hooper responds with hisusual rhetoric, stating that he is trying to draw attention to the problem of Slim in that area. Theelder “was pleased with the answers. Kyebe, he said, needed help - and our visit would let theworld know what was happening here. I started to explain that stories and pictures in the Westernpress did not necessarily translate into medical assistance or relief aid - but then realised that I wasreneging on my responsibilities as a guest, for my straightforward reply was not what anybodywanted to hear. Sometimes in a desperate situation it is better to be offered hope, even if it isempty hope.”2 looper is right; the situation within which he is working is complicated andriven with ambiguities and areas of doubt. However, he never reflects fully on the possibility heraises here: that the hope he offers is empty.111 Ibid., p.59.112 Ibid., p.52.115And secondly, Hooper hints at the “small service industry” needed to cater for visiting journalists.This “industry” is therefore one of the few tangible effects springing from the discourse,admittedly bringing in foreign exchange to Uganda, but, as I hope I have shown, under extremelydubious and possibly exploitative circumstances. The existence of this “industry” is, of course,effaced in the final media representations of ‘AIDS in Africa’ when the journalist goes ‘absent’from the text and becomes a passive, invisible eye, observing events without impacting upon them.I shall consider one of the key elements of this “service industry” in a moment. Journalists pouredin to Uganda after Hooper and Neveu’s representations from their ‘AIDS safari’ appeared inEurope and North America. Hooper describes the media feeding-frenzy that arose: “with the NewYork Times article, and Roland’s Kyebe video which had just appeared on American network TV,the ‘AIDS villages of Uganda’ had suddenly become a much sought-after story”13 Then “overthe next few months the ‘AIDS villages of Uganda’ continued to fascinate the international media;reporters and photographers from many of the world’s leading journals and broadcasting stationsdescended on Uganda looking for powerful or sensational copy. . . At least some of them arrivedwith the apparent expectation that Kampala’s streets would be lined with the Belsen-like faces ofthe walking wounded; disappointed there, they popped Sterotabs in their water bottles, and set outfor the banana groves.”14 This feeding-frenzy is likely to have resulted in the worrying prospectof events in Slim being enacted many times over - the same asymmetries of power anddiseconomies of capital, access, perception and production made manifest; many more Florences,Beatrices, and Mirinas captured for representations with their images becoming commodities.115Even more worrying are my suspicions that Ed Hooper is one of the more sensitive, concerned andreflexive journalists reporting from Uganda at that time. He is committed to acquiring an in-depthknowledge of Slim, and this perhaps contrasts markedly with some of the hit-and-run journalists113 Ibid., p.110.114 Ibid., p.’ 17.115 Alex Shoumatoff is both a better known journalist and, arguably, a much better writer than Ed Hooper. Heundertakes an almost identical journey to Hooper in search of the ‘source’ of ‘AIDS’! Approximately a year after thetrips Hooper documents in Slim, Shoumatoff retraces his footsteps looking for material for his own piece of literaryjournalism. They visit the same villages, bars, and hotels, hit the same potholes, conduct interviews with the samefew individuals, and rely on the same rhetoric, images and representations. They therefore both build and reinforce avery similar imaginative geography of AIDS and Africa, and contribute to the continued mythologisation of Africaas the locus classicus of disease and social, cultural and political disorder. Shoumatoff, A. 1988: ‘In Search of theSource of AIDS’ in African Madness (New York: Knopf) and Vanity Fair, vol 5 1(7), July 1988.116who arrived after the ‘AIDS villages of Uganda’ story had broken and came already knowing whatform their representations of the situation would take. And yet, as Slim demonstrates, evenHooper commits many exploitative and intrusive acts on his quest. Slim is not, therefore, a lonestory. Its narrative can be multiplied many times over, thoroughly entangling all readers of thestory of ‘AIDS in Africa’ in the actuality of the situation in Africa, through words, meanings,history and physical interaction, at the same time as they are distanced through the rhetorical andnarrative strategies of the representations themselves.The Journalist& “Service Industry”Hooper documents his dealings with these other journalists in Uganda, and also reveals muchabout life as part of a sizable and predominantly male European and North American ex-patcommunity in Africa, composed largely of businessmen, travellers, journalists, soldiers, embassystaff, diplomats and aid workers. From these sections of the book falls evidence which suggeststhat a spatially and historically isolationist telling of the ‘AIDS in Africa’ story is hypocrisy of thehighest order. Such evidence mocks the effacement and distantiation of journalistic and, morebroadly, ‘Western’ presence in sections of Slim and the media discourse it both describes andfeeds into. To borrow from Gould: this evidence shows that “we” are part of the same sexualbackcloth as “Ugandans” and also that ex-pat presence in Uganda has a significant andpredominantly exploitative impact on the structure of the backcloth in that country! A “serviceindustry” is supported, exploited and regularly used by the ex-pat community.”6While in Uganda, Hooper is a regular user of this “service industry”. He is extremelypromiscuous when resident there and frank about this sexual activity in Slim. This promiscuity ledlooper to have eight HIV tests during his time working in Africa. He eventually meets his futurewife, Sue, a native-Ugandan, in Buffalo Bill’s, a pick-up bar and restaurant in Nairobi frequentedby many ex-pats, journalists and sex-workers.116 I use the term “service industry” ironically.117This sexual and economic interaction, in which looper plays full part, completely undermines theisolationist treatment of the story in the press and in the sections of Slim where Hooper adoptsjournalistic rhetoric to quest for the ‘truth’ about AIDS. In this, the final part of my analysis ofSlim, I wish to focus in more detail on this sexual/economic interaction. Such a focus sees anumber of the themes already discussed coalesce together: the overt and offensive masculinism ofHooper’s introduction to Uganda resurfaces to shape the representations and imaginativegeographies that emerge when he discusses his sexual activity; distinct asymmetries of powerunderpin his conditions of sexual access; and finally, as before, Hooper never fully reflects uponthese asymmetries.Hooper set up his narrative within the context of a love affair, between him and a ‘knowing’ anddangerous feminized Uganda. This placing of the balance of agency, control and power with the‘other’ is repeated on a small-scale when he describes the advent of his promiscuity upon arrival inAfrica:“I . . . had compensated for ten years’ worth of public-school inhibitions with a latespring sowing of wild oats when I returned to East Africa in 1980. It was then that Ispent my first night with an African woman . . . And that one night was enough tobreach the wall of the dam. Repressions were discarded like underwear . . . I haddiscovered the further joys of being with African women. I found out that generallythey were uninhibited, unsaddled with Western hang-ups and extremely sexy”117This, like his earlier positioning of Uganda as female, is a common trope; with the white,European male morally undone upon arrival in a seductive Africa. He yields to its sexual pull, toelemental forces of a wild human nature. Hooper also reinforces stereotypes of the ‘African’woman, as overtly sexual, natural and more given to the expression of passion and desire. Thisre-use and reinforcing of stereotypes, then, can be added to the damage, documented earlier, thatthe book inflicts on a symbolic and ideological level. The rhetoric chosen to convey the aboveinformation once more places agency and control within Africa, and with “the African woman” in117 jj p69.118particular. In this light, Hooper is merely acting naturally, responding to an irresistible siren’spull. Whereas, it could more accurately be argued that Hooper has simply arrived in a place wherethe economic situation is such that he is able to exploit his social and economic power for sexualgain, like colonialists before him and like many of his fellow ex-pats.A picture of the “service industry” that forms and exists within this economic imbalance can bebuilt up from the glimpses of it provided in Slim. 118 The actuality of the situation seems to be along way from Hooper’s literary tales of seduction and reciprocity, and he himself proves to be ahighly active part of an unequal economic system, which in places is able to manifest itself as aninformal apartheid. “There were several watering-holes where the expatriate community was wontto congregate. On Sundays, a large percentage would descend on one or other of the rival sailingclubs at Entebbe and Kaxi, on Lake Victoria. These were essentially whites-only establishments,though a de facto agreement obtained whereby African wives or girlfriends could also attend, ifappropriate.”1’9Hooper often visits one particular “watering-hole” - Buffalo Bill’s. As noted, itcrops up in several of the media representations of ‘AIDS in Africa, often, ironically, as evidenceof the indigenous promiscuity and debauchery of African’ social life. Hooper describes the bar asfollows. “I decided to take a taxi up to ‘Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Bar and Eating House’. BuffaloBill’s, or BB’s for short, is an establishment famous for its succulent and attractively-priced Tbone steaks, and for its malayas, or hookers, who are said by many of the male patrons to displaysimilar characteristics.”20 Hooper glibly conflates women and meat and commodifles both. Hebetrays the economic imbalance that underpins the bar’s trade - expats go to Buffalo Bill’s forcheap sex.118 I am aware that my critique enters dangerous ground as it moves to consider the sex industry existing alongsidethe expat community in Africa. My access to this situation occurs through the limited and specific ‘keyhole’ offeredby Slim! I therefore risk voyeurism too. As I shall show, Hooper reflects only partially upon the social andeconomic imbalances that enable his promiscuity while in Africa. In analysing the situation I run the risk ofpresenting the women involved as passive and silent ‘victim&, despite my well-intentioned aim being to redresssome of the imbalances that underpin the sex industry in Uganda and Kenya. For this reason and because of thisrisk, I acknowledge the agency, voices and motivations of these women as a significant aporia in my account and Ichoose to concentrate solely upon an analysis of Hooper’s representations and position in Uganda, rather thanattempt to re-position the women he meets within this analysis.119 jjj p.119.120 Ibid., p.63.119Hooper becomes marginally more reflexive later as he further fills out the picture of the economicand social relations that surround and enable his promiscuity, as European in Uganda. He remarksthat women “for what reasons, I did not dare to enquire - were readily available. Armed with thesenew discoveries, I felt myself quite the lady-killer, and, over the next three years I had asuccession of lovers and girlfriends. Many were one-night stands . . . But I was educated, andentertained, and amazed, by nearly every one.”121 “For several weeks I thought nothing ofspending a twelve-hour day following the NRA to the front, returning to write and file my copy,and then retiring to bed with someone who had been a stranger an hour before”122 He is, for someof his time in Uganda, recklessly promiscuous. After his second H1V test “I assured my fatherthat I’d be careful, and then three hours later picked up another girl in the hotel bar.”123In detailing his sexual relations above, Hooper sustains a notion of complete reciprocity but, asbefore when he photographed the three women for his stories, his words betray a tension. Hepartially reflects upon his conditions of access and position in Uganda in relation to the eventsunfolding around him, but does not engage in a full confrontation with the implications of thisreflection - he “dare” not enquire why women are “readily available” to him, although, onesuspects, deep down he probably knows! Later, in other sections of the book he fills out theeconomics that underpin his sexual relations: “Sometimes, in the morning, I would give somemoney (for the bus, the baby, the hair-do, whatever); sometimes I would not, if the lack ofpayment was resented, the woman concerned normally had too much pride, or dignity, to mentionthe fact - but would refuse further invitations to my house or bed.”24 “During the night I woke anumber of times, and then would wake her also . . . Come the morning, I felt indifferent andempty; I just didn’t want to be with her anymore. I gave her some money and waited for her to121 jj122 Ibid., p.62. How unusual is Hooper’s case? One journalist reporting on AIDS bumps into another - “At myhotel in Nairobi I had met a foreign correspondent for a North American daily. He was an ambitious, smart fellowwho was particularly interested in the subject of AIDS, because, he explained in the bar, he had slept with women allover the world. “But I’m cutting down on the fucking now, and trying just to stick to blow jobs,” he said.”Conover T. 1993; ‘Trucking through the AIDS Belt’ in New Yorker 16/8/93.123 Ibid., p.62.124 Ibid., p.69.120leave. “125 But, throughout the course of Slim, he never explicitly connects his economic powerand these economic relations to the “availability” of sexual relations and his promiscuity.In the following paragraph, Hooper states that it is “the economic imperative that render[sJ Africanwomen ‘available’ to white men,” but he then seeks to remove and absolve himself from theseexploitative relations with a series of self-justifications. He is, he argues, different! This ultimatelack of reflexivity seems to be partially provoked by the tensions and complexity added toHooper’s personal situation when he begins a serious relationship with a woman he meets inBuffalo Bill’s. He eventually marries and returns to Britain with Sue, and sections of the bookdocument the rather turbulent early stages of his relationship with her. He expends considerablediscursive energy arguing, perhaps as much for his own benefit as the reader’s, that they are both“different to the others”: that he is not exploitative and that she is not a malaya.“Perhaps, I was far more to be condemned than the most racist of expatriates, the onewho would call black women kaffirs, niggers, whores and worse - behind their backs,to their faces, it hardly mattered . . . But who, whatever his unpleasantness, wouldhave struck and honoured a straightforward business deal: you screw, I pay. I couldnot deny that it was the economic imperative that rendered African women ‘available’ towhite men . . . Given a free choice, I was sure that most African women would farsooner spend a night with a young, attractive man of their own race, age, habit andlanguage, than with one who was often ten, twenty, thirty years older, who might beabusive and stupid, who understood little and cared even less about their culture andbackground. So, with all that in mind - could I still make out that I was a special case?Yes, perhaps I could . . . The first item in my defence was that I had never felttempted to discriminate against blacks, for in the end racial prejudice and imaginedsuperiority stem only from fear of the unknown. In fact, in Uganda I had more blackfriends than white . . And despite my laziness about learning any of the locallanguages. . . I was treated by many Africans as something of an honorary member of125 Ibid., p.134.121the tribe. . . And secondly, I had always lived the sort of hand-to-mouth existence withwhich many Africans are familiar [but for, Hooper, of course, this was a lifestylechoice not a necessity].. . So, I thought, what am I doing enquiring of Sue about herpast? What moral code am I seeking to impose? if I can make a special case formyself, convince myself that I’m more caring than exploitative, can I not also acceptthat Sue’s an original, rather than just another good-time girl from Buffalo Bill’s.”26This is an extraordinary paragraph, one that takes Hooper to the brink of reflexivity and revelation,but then sees him move rapidly away from this brink with a series of rather weak self-justifications.He continues in this vein as he repeatedly and anxiously asks Sue about her sexual past andeconomic standing. “She had insisted that she didn’t ‘do business’ - or sleep with men for money.And indeed, she had never asked me for cash, although one time when we cooked dinner at home,she had bought considerably more food than was necessary. . . She had no job, no visible meansof support . . . So just how did she survive? . . . Sue told me she survived by a number ofdevices. If she had a boyfriend, he would buy her clothes and generally look after her; at othertimes a boyfriend of Maria’s might step in to pay the rent, or buy food from the market. Thenthere were her girlfriends, some of whom clearly were doing business as malayas [who were]generous to their friends.”127 “I am not a prostitute,’ she told me, very clearly. ‘I cannot go witha man for money. How can I respect myself after I do that?’. . . Yet many of the women whowent to Buffalo Bill’s would probably have given the same answer, even though four out of fivehad accepted the principle of getting money for sex.. . Yet not every woman who went to BuffaloBill’s was a malaya. And I found that I was inclined to believe Sue where I would have doubtedmost others in her situation.”128126 Ibid., pp.70-71.127 Ibid., pp.67-68.128 Ibid., p.68.122The economic/sexual encounters confronted through the ‘keyhole’ of Slim are complex. I do notwish to get drawn into psychological speculation on looper’s part, speak for the women involvedregarding the degree of reciprocity, resistance or control accorded to them, extrapolate too far fromthe specifics of looper’s situation to that of other expats, or attempt to ‘read’ the rhetoricalmanoeuvres Hooper undertakes in order to distance himself and Sue from male exploiter/femaleprostitute relations. What is clear, however, from Hooper’s account, and of great importance forthe isolationist representations of ‘AIDS in Africa’ that appear both unreflexively in Slim and themedia in general, is that there is considerable sexual Linkage, much of it ‘unsafe’, and that thesesexual relations are frequently underpinned by economic relations, perhaps fluid, unpredictable andindeterminate, but often inequitable nevertheless. And, if looper’s case is typical, hedemonstrates that he holds the balance of economic and social power to gain access to andcommand over his sexual partners, with remuneration occurring haphazardly and unpredictably atthe conclusion of their relations.123Conclusion“I retained the right to ask questions, and to make critical observations. . . For as soon as one lost thefreedom to comment upon the fact that the resistance committee system was not working well in someareas; that there was still fighting in much of the north and the east; that respect for human rights haddeteriorated during the previous nine months; that people were being thrown into prison illegally; thatone of the reasons why AIDS was spreading so fast in the country was that a lot of people were havingsex with more than one partner; that some of the officials appointed to help fight the disease weredragging their feet due to political cowardice . . as soon as one felt constrained not to mention suchissues because one knew that this was a Third World country which had been exploited by its colonialmasters, or because one liked its people, and knew that they were poor in a way that most Westernerscouldn’t even imagine, or because one had a nice house, and a regular income, and a good bunch offriends, and one didn’t want to lose them - then one had sold out the very principles that a journalistwas meant to uphold.”Hooper, E., 1990: Slim: A Reporter’s Own Story of AIDS in East Africa (L.ondon: The Bodley Head),p337“I would like to dedicate this book to all good committed journalists everywhere.” David Harvey,Social Justice and The City, 1973, Oxford: Basil BlackwellThe nature of my analysis of Slim entails that I arrive at something of a non-conclusion. As Istated in my introduction, I do not wish to bind the various representational strategies, rhetorics,asymmetries of power and resultant diseconomies that have formed the focus of my discussion intoan over-simplified self-determining system. My aim is, instead, a deeper understanding of theliterary and literal construction of vitally important, formative popular representations. Firstly, anunderstanding of how these representations are rhetorically constructed, how ‘authority’ isachieved and held, how geographic knowledges gain their weight and validity - in essence, how‘we’ know what we know about ‘AIDS in Africa’! This form of critique allows one to both learn124from existing representations and, hopefully, intervene, upon the firm basis of this understanding,in a discourse that is still highly active, still sodden with meaning, and still a very real site of life ordeath. And secondly, a deeper understanding of the literal construction of media representations of‘AIDS in Africa’, using the discursive mechanics revealed in Slim to situate and contextualise theserepresentations within a real economy of production; rather than a rhetorical one, which wouldcorrespond to the mythic, passive, objective stance of the journalist, or a theoretical one,corresponding to the attempts by those who engage in critique of the media representations tosituate them within a limited abstract context. My conclusion, therefore, is the complexityunearthed during this two-pronged analysis.There may be discursive ambiguities, contradictions and complexities revealed by this analysis ofSlim and arising from its literary form, its rooting in an individual psyche and its ideologicallyexplosive subject matter, but there are also, however, dangerous coterminous tendencies in theintertwining rhetorics within which looper couches his representations of ‘AIDS in Africa’. As Ishall show in the next chapter, these same tendencies manifest themselves in much stronger formin the media discourse which looper’s work fed into. This discourse contains a greater weight ofjournalistic and colonial rhetoric than Slim and also lacks its undermining personal honesties andpartial reflections. The rhetorics of journalism and colonialism often combine in Slim to distancethe ‘Western’ reader from the events described and efface their involvement and complicity in theAIDS situation in Africa. They do this by removing the author as affective presence from the text,relaying the story in ‘objective’ narrative manner, displacing agency onto the object of discourseand disguising authorial motives and situation. This distanciation is compounded by Hooper’sframing of the story. Like many of the media representations, Hooper discusses ‘AIDS in Africa’in relative spatial and historical isolation.This limited template combines with the tendencies unleashed by his rhetoric to efface any outsideinvolvement, especially Western, in the AIDS situation in Africa. And, in turn, it acts to naturalisecorruption, chaos, mismanagement, misfortune, suffering, disease and death as essence of Africa -connections and associations that are well-grooved and powerful in the Western consciousness.125From here it is but a short step to positioning Africa as source of AIDS and allocating blame for the‘brewing’ of the disease, and few external mitigating or contextualising circumstances are providedto counter this view.This conflation of rhetoric, association and template thus acts to overwhelm, unintentionally maybebut forcefully nevertheless, most of Hooper’s good intentions. He may well care deeply but theresults of his representations are not just misunderstanding in this case; the results are, as Hallargues, all too real. I feel that Slim’s balance sheet has been pushed into the negative by Hooper’stemplating and the blisters of colonial rhetoric that erupt through his text. He is raising awarenessof the AIDS situation in Uganda, but the manner in which he does this is, I believe, moredestructive than constructive. This negative effect will emanate from the working of the book on asymbolic and ideological level as Hooper’s representations manifest themselves in affectedattitudes, behaviour and actions.But Slim describes the construction of, as well as feeds into, a particular discursive moment and itis clear that many negatives also arise from the literal production of the representations. Hoopernot only produces representations, he describes how these are messily and often exploitativelyobtained and, therefore, the book also contains evidence that acts to undermine its own rhetoric ofidealistic objectivity. But in this evidence lies the book’s extreme utility too. Just as the bookalmost seems to turn on itself, performing an auto-critique and riddling itself with ambiguities andcontradictions, so it can be turned critically upon the dominant media representations that form apowerful ‘AIDS in Africa’ discourse. Slim also reveals the personal, political, material, andeconomic conditions that enable and give rise to these media representations. It therefore performsa grounding and distance-collapsing function on its own sections of journalistic and colonialrhetoric and, importantly, on the media representations too. An immense amount of criticalmeaning is added to them as a result, and I will attempt to follow these implications through in thenext chapter.126Slim thus exposes the gap between the rhetorics of journalism and empire and the heavy actualityof the journalist’s presence in Africa. This gap would be ludicrous if it were not so dangerous.Media representations are not produced solely for the ‘public good’. They are valuablecommodities and, in the case of ‘AIDS in Africa’, the personal and financial gain that accrues fromthem seems to fall to those who already hold the balance of power. An immense amount of socialand economic power is exerted in their production, largely along lines of existing inequity - West-Third World, male-female, rich-poor, white-black, well-sick - and this is seldom reflected upon inthe representations themselves, even though it is reflected in them, entailing that they actuallyrepresent the encounter between a man whose profession is itself a sign of standing and education,possessed of the power to pull the God-trick and construct swingeing Truths from haphazardencounters and partial perspectives; and a country and a people who are indeed held in anunfavourable position within an inequitable capitalist system. This encounter and exertion givesrise to extreme, often horrific, diseconomies of capital, access, movement and perception in theproduction of these representations of ‘AIDS in Africa’. Commodification, and these asymmetriesof power and diseconomies of production form a more realistic context within which to situate themedia discourse. In producing representations, it is apparent that looper is neither objective norpassive. He is intensely affective and has a very real, often negative impact upon the represented,which compounds the likely deleterious impact of the book on a symbolic and ideological level.The same people tend to suffer as a result of both production and consumption. Real people sufferreal indignities in the production of this discourse, with little prospect of gain. These real, oftenviolent and exploitative effects demonstrate that “we”, the readers of Slim and the mediarepresentations, are ineluctably entangled in the actuality of ‘AIDS in Africa’, despite thedistantiating rhetoric within which these stories are couched.Given the gaps between rhetoric and actuality that fracture The Slow Plague and Slim, reflexivity,or rather its lack, emerges as a key consideration. Gould was stubbornly unreflexive to theevidence he himself collected, which pointed to science as intensely social and undermined his ownidealistic scientific stance. Hooper is also unreflexive, but not to the same stubborn degree. Atseveral points in the text he partially reflects upon his position in Uganda and upon the127diseconomies of production he utilises. He also, at times, expresses doubts about the rhetoricaljustifications for his work. Ultimately, however, he pulls away from this brink, falling back onmoney and renewed self-justification to ease the tension he has encountered, and failing to confrontthe full implications of his reflection.129 Thus, he fails to fully reflect upon his actions, hisrhetoric and upon the dissonance between these two.With more reflexivity in production and presentation, and less colonial rhetoric, the damagingaspects of Slim would be damped down and the positive effects envisaged by Hooper would bemore likely to manifest themselves. As the quotation at the beginning of my conclusion shows,Hooper has to negotiate a tremendous amount of political and moral complexity in order to producehis representations. He is well aware of this fact and of the responsibilities he bears as a result ofhis position in Uganda reporting on AIDS, even if his negotiations subsequently stumble and therepresentations he produces fail to reflect fully the complexity of the situation he so eloquently andpassionately describes here.To return to Gould’s metaphorical coliseum: I sit in the margined seats wearing my white toga and,at times, as I read Slim my overwhelming desire was to lower my thumb in disdain at the spectaclein the textual arena below. But to do so is simply not an option. Committed journalism, likescience, is a vital tool in this fight against AIDS and in the very real fight for life and death which isbeing played out in this discursive field, but it can learn from the labours of those in the ‘margined’seats. Irreducible insights to political practice are indeed offered from this position, howeverephemeral it may feel at times. Hooper is right to argue that “in the end, responsible journalism129 As a result, he is able to maintain a stance of innocence and passivity throughout the text, whatever rhetoricalmode he is operating in: as absent journalist, and as present, semi-reflective individual. In the latter mode, looperargues that though he may seem to be affective and exploitative, he is, in fact, different to ‘the others’ and his workwill, despite his doubts, lead to good. Pratt observes similar strategies of representation when she contrastssentimental colonial travel writing with earlier colonial informational/scientific writing. Of the former she states,“though he is positioned at the center of a discursive field rather than on the periphery, and though he is composed ofa whole body rather than a disembodied eye, the sentimental protagonist, too, is constructed as a non-interventionistEuropean presence.” At times, Hooper, too, relies upon this non-interventionist positioning, contrary to all theevidence he then relays from that position. Pratt calls this the discourse of “anti-conquest” - the strategies ofrepresentation whereby European bourgeois subjects seek to secure their innocence in the same moment as theyassert European hegemony. Pratt, M.L. 1992: Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (New York:Routledge), p.78.128has as important a role to play as have condoms, clean needles, and health educationcampaigns.”13° Perhaps the most powerful and intense example of this form of journalism is thework of Randy Shuts, who constructed negotiated, situated, reflexive and politically drivenrepresentations, anchored in a deeply principled sense of morality.’31130 Slim p.165131 Shuts, R. 1987: And The Band Played On: Politics, People and The AIDS Epidemic (London: Penguin).129Chapter Three - A Continent Under Siege: TheWestern Media Report on ‘AIDS in Africa’130Chapter Three - A Continent Under Siege: The WesternMedia Report on ‘AIDS in Africa’IntroductionIn Slim, Ed Hooper describes the background to, and literal construction of, a formative andfrightening discursive moment: the telling of the ‘AIDS in Africa’ story in the Western ‘quality’press in the late-1980s. And, through his news photographs and reports, Hooper also feedsseveral key representations in to this moment himself. This period of time saw the story first breakin the West, and then be relayed over and over again within a very similar, and offensive, set ofrepresentationalmodes, metaphors, tropes, stereotypes and linguistic structures - some of whichare also used in The Slow Plague and Slim.The period can be seen as momentous in several senses of the word. Firstly, it represents a time ofintense and franticmedia discourse on the topic of ‘AIDS in Africa’. Nearly all ‘quality’ Westernnewspapers, radio and television stations focussed on the issue and sent journalists to the area.They then ran very similar ‘AIDS in Africa’ news stories, series and features within a short spaceof time. I choose here to focus on the subset of print journalism but recognise that the full natureof this discursive momentwas also ineluctably shaped by other media too. Secondly, this periodof time saw the ‘AIDS in Africa’ discourse take a particular shape and direction - it was givenconsiderablemomentum. An offensive and derogatory discursive pattern was established, with adistinct geographical imaginary mobilising around the semiotically loaded and resonant term‘Africa’. This pattern persists and is still playing itself out in the media. And, finally, the ‘AIDSin Africa’ media discourse is of intense moment, since, as Hall suggests, people can live and diethrough its flux and form.The story was reported for a number of complex and contradictory reasons. Firstly, the scientificevidence emerging from ‘Africa’ at the time suggested an HIV male-female infection ratio of 1:1.This evidence contradictedthe statisticalpicture of infection in Europe and North America, where it131was believed that HIV was largely confined to the offensively formulated 4 ‘H’ risk groups:Homosexuals, Haitians, Heroin-users and Haemophiliacs. As a result, the ‘African AIDS’situation was labelled a ‘heterosexual epidemic’ and therefore deemed newsworthy as a lesson thatthe disease could, and would if social, sexual and educational precautions were not taken, spreadthrough the mainstream heterosexual population in the West too.1 This story angle positions‘Africa’ as both lesson for the West and a future to be avoided. Secondly, tentative figures and‘eyewitness’ evidence suggested that the ‘AIDS’ situation in ‘Africa’ was reaching extremelyserious proportions, with words like ‘plague’ and ‘apocalypse’ commonly used. Many stories runin the press did, therefore, have a genuinely altruistic motive. Like Hooper, the authors wereaiming to draw attentionto the perceived situation and hopefully, as a consequence, draw aid too.Thirdly, several less tangible and contradictory reasons also seem to underlie the telling of the‘AIDS in Africa’ story. Media stories are symbolic commodities and media organisations aim tomake money. ‘AIDS in Africa’ provides a vessel for titillation and voyeurism via exhibition of‘strange African sexual practices’ and as such represents extremely valuable, newsworthy copyAnd finally, while ‘Africa’, as supposed site of heterosexualAIDS, may represent a lesson for theWest, this positioning simultaneously translates AIDS into a threat to all. Many of the mediastories appearing at the time seem to betray this psychological anxiety - at one and the same timeacknowledging ‘AIDS in Africa’ as a lesson to be acted upon and attempting to minimise the threatposed by stressing the differences between the African and Western situation that would preventthis threat becoming reality.These ‘reasonings’ underpinned the late-i 980s ‘AIDS in Africa’ discursive moment. The mediarepresentations forming this discursive moment therefore exhibit the anxieties and tensions ofindividual journalists and a society attempting to come to ontological and epistemological termswith what seemed to be a potentially deadly threat to its very existence. Further complexity and1 Slim, itself, provides evidence of this media positioning of ‘AIDS in Africa’. Once the story of an apparentlyserious epidemic of AIDS in Ugandabreaks in the West, the country suffers a deluge of reporters eager to producefollow-up stories. Hooper meets and helps many of these ‘newcomers’ and states that “nearly all were impressed bythe fact that Ugandawas suffering a heterosexual AIDS epidemic: ‘It’s not only the gays who gotta watch out now,’was one reporter’s bottom-line summary as he brought me a beer the night before flying back home.” Hooper, E.1990: Slim: A Reporter’s Own Story ofAIDS in East Africa (London: The BodleyHead),p.117.i 32ambiguity is added to the discourse by the immense weight of tangled meaning and metaphorreleased by the explosive combination ‘AIDS’ and ‘Africa’. This juxtaposition places ‘AIDS’ - anexus ofmeaning and discourse that unavoidably pulls on notions of sex, race, gender, religion,science, the social, nature and culture - alongside ‘Africa’ - the literary site for polymorphous andperverse collusions between racism and sexism and the trigger for a series of historical and colonialresonances and imaginative geographies. The result of this collision is a particularly distinctive,often shocking, media discourse, and one that is still used and playing itselfout.Several papers comment on aspects of this discourse. They focus on its literary construction and,not surprisingly in view of its contents, are highly critical of the images and representations usedby the Western ‘quality’ press when telling the ‘AIDS in Africa’ story. These include works byTreichler, Watney, Patton, Bryn-Austin and the Chirimuutas.2 I wish to draw on this work,combine and fill it out with the insights gained from Slim regarding the literal construction of thediscourse, and analyse the articles that formed this powerful mediamoment. My primary aim is tountangle and unpick the intertwining rhetorics used to tell the story. First, of journalisticobjectivity and passivity. This rhetorical stance is, by convention, adopted in a much moreassertive manner in the newspapers under considerationthan in Hooper’s schizophrenic’now-you -see-him, now-you-don’t’ literary journalistic format. The media discourse admits no space forpersonal reflection on conditions of journalistic access or on feelings and emotions generatedduring the encounters giving rise to the story. Slim, however, can be used to partially situate suchrepresentations, exposing the ‘God-trick’ that builds distance between the journalists and theobjects of their discourse. And secondly, the discursive moment sees predominantly white,Western males travelling around and constructing representations of ‘Africa’. The discourse isintimately linked to historical notions of ‘Africa’, the black subject, sexuality and disease in the2 Treichler, P. 1989: “AIDS and HIV infection in the Third World: A First World Chronicle” in Kruger, B. andMariaini, P. (eds.), Remaking History (Seattle: Bay Press), pp.41-66. Watney, S. 1990: ‘Missionary Positions:AIDS, “Africa”, and Race’ in R Ferguson et al (eds.), Out There: Marginalization and Contemporary Cultures(Cambridge, USA: MIT Press), pp.89-103. Patton, C. 1990: Inventing AIDS (New York: Routledge). BrynAustin, 5. 1990: “AIDS andAfrica: United States Media and Racist Fantasy” in Cultural Critique (Winter 1989-90),pp.129-152. Chirimuuta, R. and Chirimuuta, R. 1989: AIDS, Africa and Racism (London: Free AssociationBooks).133Western imagination? In the telling of their stories the journalists rely heavily upon re-hashedstrands of colonial discourse and these strands act to create a monolithic popular geography -offensive and of potentially dangerous practical import.4 I intend to speculate on the possibleeffects of the ‘news’, ‘facts’ and ‘knowledge’ constructed within this discursive media space, thusconcluding by turning from the power that embraces the forming of the discourse to the possiblepower and implicationsthat emanate from it.The news is an immense feat of social construction - not the reflection or reporting of reality.5Slim details one particular aspect of this construction process: Hooper reveals the asymmetries ofpower and disproportionate economies of capital, access and sight that underpin the initialgeneration of these representations. Slim also highlights the manner in which journalists are fullyembroiled in the stories they tell, despite the passive, objective manner in which these stories arelater narrated. Messy and affective presence thus becomes authoritative absence once therepresentations appear in the newspapers. The actualityof looper’s presence in Uganda thereforeacts as useful counterpoint to the media representations themselves, partially replacing the effacedjournalistic presence in the stories and situating them within a more realistic economy ofproduction.But, in this final section I have raised my focus from the work of one man to the work of the‘Western media’ in general and the ‘quality press’ specifically. Much work centres on the role ofthe media in society and the particularnature of this wider economy of production. These readingsBryn Austin, S. 1990: “AIDS and Africa: United States Media and Racist Fantasy” in Cultural Critique (Winter1989-90), p.130.I focus here on the broadnature of the ‘AIDS in Africa’ media discourse and the general characteristics of thegeographical imaginary constructedand reinforcedtherein. For a fuller exposition and genealogy of a specific strandof the colonial and geographical legacy reworkedwithin this discourse, see Jarosz, L. 1992: “Constructing the DarkContinent: Metaphor as Geographic Representation of Africa” in GeografiskaAnnaler 74 B(2), pp.105-115. Jaroszexamines the historical persistence and the ideological power of the metaphor of Africa as the Dark Continent. Shedescribes its tenacity as a metaphor, charts its use by Western explorers, missionaries, journalists, literary authorsand academics, including, briefly, discourse upon AIDS, and argues that this persistence is testimony to “itsemotional and dramatic power, its aesthetic appeal for Western audiences, and, most importantly, its crystallizationof Africa as Other, simultaneously incorporatedand exciudedas negative reflection of the Western self-image”(p.113).Eldridge, J. 1993: “News, truth and power” in Eldridge, J. (ed.), Glasgow University Media Group, Getting theMessage: News, Truth and Power (London: Routledge), pp.3-33.134range from theories of systemic conspiracy in information provision, both of the political left andright, through to free-market analyses, with many highly complex theorisations falling betweenthese two extremes. This theoreticalarena is the site for much heated debate. A discussion of thisdebate is beyond the scope of this chapter; but, in examining supposedly formative mediarepresentations of ‘AIDS in Africa’, it is necessary to take an explicit, if simple, theoretical stance,since my examination of these representations already suggests an implicit belief in the ability ofthe media to deleteriously shape social consciousness. Firstly, global media ownership structuresare such that the power to chronicle the ‘AIDS in Africa’ story rests heavily with Westernmultinationalcorporations.6This is not to suggest or even hint at any form of conspiracy theory,merely to indicatethat the discourse does takes the form of an overwhelming Western examinationof ‘Africa’, with all the negative historical and geographical connotations implied therein. Andsecondly, within these ownership structures, news is a valuable commodity, not primarily a socialservice or a reflectionof the world to the reader. This money-making function works itself out inthe ‘AIDS in Africa’ media discourse in a number of ways. The economics of reporting fromAfrica and the time pressures on journalists and editors seems to contribute to their resorting sooften to easy clichés, racist stereotypes and ill-thought-out explanations for the situations theyencounter there. The scope for reflexivity, reconsideration, novelty and depth is limited by theeconomics of the discourse.7 The need to sell papers and excite the reader leads to an undertone ofsensationalism, melodramaand titillation, even in the ‘quality press’ accounts.Spurr argues further that the consumption of this news is a perverse pleasure, partly dependent onthe ability of readers to remain largely unaffected by the sorrow relayed to them. By this reading,not only does commodification lead to overtly sensationalist treatments of serious issues, but a6 Herman, E. S. and Chomsky, N. 1988: Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media(NewYork: Pantheon).See, for example, Hooper’s comments that “reporters and photographers from many of the world’s leadingjoumalsand broadcasting stations descendecbn Uganda looking for powerful or sensational copy. . . At least some of themarrivedwith the apparent expectation that Kampala’s streets would be lined with the Belsen-like faces of the walkingwounded; disappointedthere, they popped Sterotabs in their water bottles, and set out for the banana groves.” Slim,p.11 7. See also Harriman who states: “Journalists are sent off to all sorts of catastrophes and political feudsoverseas and told to file tight, comprehensible copy, and quickly. Those who don’t, don’t go overseas next time. Tofunction like this journalists have to have fairly durable, well-stockedkit bags, not just with a few clean shirts orblouses, but of attitudes and recognisable perspectives as well.” Harriman, E. 1987: Hack: Home Truths aboutForeign News (London: Zed Books).135series of aesthetic devices then come into play to elicitand ease consumption of these stories. Forexample, the montage mosaic form of newspapers is seen to make ‘AIDS in Africa’ spatially - interms of layout - and rhetoricallyequivalentto a sex scandal or lottery win. No real reason is givento engage with, or devote attention to, one rather than the other. All items are given a similaraesthetic and narrative treatment and reported variously as objects of horror, beauty, pity, avariceand so on. But ultimately, Spurr argues, the result is a certain possession of social reality leadingto pleasure for the benefit of the observer’s sensibilities. Spun may be overstating his casesomewhat, since most articles are founded upon and convey at least a partial truth to the reader.Perverse pleasure and reader passivity are not the only likely responses to these AIDS stories.However, there is a risk that this mediatizedconsumption of misfortune will, in certain cases, addfurther social ‘distance’ to the gap between the reader and the person with AIDS in Africa sincecompounding distancing tendencies also lie: in the isolationist framing of the ‘AIDS in Africa’story as exactly that - purely ‘African’, with no causal, explanatory or determining linkages withthe West; in the rhetorics of journalistic objectivity and empire within which the story is couched;and in the newspapers’ narrative approach to reality. This narrative approach carries the impliedpromise of dramatic arc. The story will, like all stories, unfold and resolve. Spurr argues that thismode positions the audience as passive consumers, simply appreciative of the unfurling andultimately resolving storyline.8 The ‘news’ has been identified, the authorities notified, and itassuredly will be dealt with, thus obviating the need for concrete and practical action from theconsumer.9Spurr’s arguments are persuasive, but this ‘Western’ storytelling and the commodifying andpotentiallynumbing and distancing tendencies therein will, of course, come to nothing if they arenot believed by the audience. Just as theorisations of mass media production and role are the siteof much debate, so the relationship between the mass media, public opinion and social8 Spurr, D., 1993: The Rhetoric of Empire: Colonial Discourse in Journalism, Travel Writing, and ImperialAdministration (Durham, USA: Duke University Press), p.45.9 Ibid., p.25.136consciousness does not admit of formulaic answers. 10 Audiences are active participants in theconstruction of meaning and do not necessarily absorb media messages in dumb and passivefashion. Kitzinger, for example, examines audience perception of AIDS in various U.K.sociological subgroups and finds an ambivalent relationship between audience and media andhealth education texts. The word of ‘scienc& is quite often doubted, with many individualscontinuing to believethat kissing or touching a person with AIDS is dangerous, despite a massiveweight of evidence and representations saying the contrary.”The relationship between the mass media, the individual recipient of their messages and thesubsequent formationof public opinion is thus exceedingly complex. This relationship is neitheradequately explained by, for example, Habermas’ apocalyptic scenario that the mass media arecorrupting the habits of self-reliant critical thought necessary for democracy and thereforeresponsible for the decay of the public sphere, nor, at the other end of the spectrum, a moreoptimistic reading which would see this strand of public discourse as offering the prospect ofuniversalizing transcendence and a liberatory public subjectivity. With respect to the ‘AIDS inAfrica’ discourse, there is partial truth in many of the representations as well as racist and sexistimagery. These representations may indeed help alleviate the situation they describe andlorreinforce, engender or encourage dangerous attitudes and opinions, depending on audiencereception. In this particulardiscourse the mass media speak to a tacit public sphere, but individualinterpellationto the supposedly mass subject position resulting is likely to be varied.But this theoreticalcomplexityshould not be allowed to defuse or detract criticalattention from the‘AIDS in Africa’ media discourse itself. There is a simple and necessary democratic need to besuspicious of and check all those who, like Gould, Hooper and the journalists examined here,speak in the name of an undefined ‘public’. This powerful abilityto address such an audience and10 Eldridge, J. 1993: ‘News, truth and power” in Eldridge, J. (ed.), Glasgow University Media Group, Getting theMessage: News, Truth and Power (London:Routledge),p.27.11 Kitzinger, J. 1993: “UnderstandingAlDS: Researching audienceperceptions of Acquiredlmmune DeficiencySyndrome” in Eldridge, J. (ed.), Glasgow University Media Group, Getting the Message: News, Truth and Power(London:Routledge),pp.27 1-304.137abstractoneseif in public is itself an unequally distributed resource, largely available - historicallyand in this specific case - to those who are white, Western and male. This distribution skews andbiases the supposedly public discourse under investigation. Warner therefore argues that the verymechanism designed to end domination- the free public sphere - is itself a form of domination.12And, specifically in reference to AIDS discourse, he also argues that, as a result, a skewed massmedia, in pursuit of a public demanded by professional journalism, all too frequently interpellatetheir public as heterosexual: uninfectedbut threatened. Gould’s cartography and rhetoric saw himimplicated in such practices. As will be seen, such interpellations also seem to operate in the‘AIDS in Africa’ media discourse, with mass publicity attempting to function as psychologicalprophylaxis! Once again, however, it is necessary to add the rider’. . . if the message is acceptedby the audience.’In the light of this complexity and all these qualifiers, who is to say that racist and sexist mediarepresentations of ‘AIDS in Africa’ have a negative impact on social consciousness? As Driverargues, there is indeed “much more to be said about the ways in which individuals remake thesymbolic geographies they are sold.” 13 But if people are to be critical and to reject, remake andreconstruct received representations, it is because everyday life and historical memory havegenerated an alternative or parallel framework through which to understand texts andrepresentations.’4 I believe that the monolithic and largely offensive nature and crushing weight ofthe ‘AIDS in Africa’ media discourse, overlying an historical legacy of Western representations of‘Africa’, leaves very little room for alternative frameworks of understanding. In this case, howindividuals know what they know about ‘AIDS in Africa’ is likely to be a direct or indirect result ofthis discourse.12 Warner, M. 1993: “The Mass Public and the Mass Subject” in Robbins, B. (ed.), The Phantom Public Sphere(Minneapolis: University ofMinnesota Press), pp.234-256.13 Driver, F. 1991: “Henry Morton Stanley and His Critics: Geography, Exploration and Empire” in Past andPresent 133, p. 35.14 Stam, R. 1992: “Mobilizing Fictions: The GulfWar, The Media and the Recruitment of the Spectator” in PublicCulture 4(2), Spring 1992, pp.101-26.138I intend to analyse the first set of stories on ‘AIDS in Africa’ to appear in the major British and USserious news publications, and then focus more specifically on published stories and photographsemanating from Hooper and Neveu’s ‘AIDS safari’ which formed part of this wave of coverage.As evidence of a supposed epidemic of AIDS in Africa trickled through to the West in the mid-198Os, the response of most newspapers was to assign a correspondent to the continent who thenfiled a series of articles, as ‘eyewitness’ to the ‘epidemic’, which were often published overconsecutive days as an ‘AIDS in Africa’ special. The ‘AIDS in Africa’ story was almost entirelyconfined to the so-called ‘quality press’. There had been intense previous reporting of AIDS as adomestic issue throughout the early-1980s and though large segments of this coverage wereconcerned with the nature of this supposed ‘gay plague’ and linked issues of guilt and immorality,the overall mediamessage was confused and often contradictory. Between newspapers and evenwithin them, between editorials, news reports, and features, each with their own codes andconventions, many differentAIDS narratives, messages and morals were relayed.15 Even after the‘AIDS in Africa’ story broke and put a potential new slant on AIDS as a domestic issue, the tabloidnewspapers in Britain continued to relay a narrative line which was heavily anti-gay in itsundertones. Of the tabloids, Britain’s Daily Star was the only one to take real notice of ‘AIDS inAfrica’ - they ran a shocking and astonishing two-day special on AIDS in Uganda in 1990, which,unfortunately, was only a small step away from some of the representations appearing insupposedly more worthy newspapers. 1615 Beharell, P. 1993: “AIDS and the British Press” in Eldridge,J. (ed.), Glasgow University Media Group, Gettingthe Message: News, Truth and Power (London:Routledge),pp.2 10-249.16 Daily Star, 30 January 1990, pp.18-19. andDaily Star, 30 January 1990, pp.18-9.The first two-page spreadwas headlined: “Land of the Living Dead - Shock Report from Uganda.” It went on,“huddledtogether in a small wooden hut, the tiny babies are watchedby their grim-facedmothers anda nun. . . Theyare all dying ofAIDS in the landofthe living dead. . . The twin provinces ofMasaka andRakai that usedtosupport 1.2 million has been devastatedby the scourge of death. Throughout this remote mountainous regionthousands are dying monthly of the mysterious sickness they know locally as. . . SLIM.” This sensationalist andoffensive storyline echoes the packaging of Hooper’s book rather too closely for comfort. The Star states “pitifulUganda is the AIDS cradle of the world” and then resorts to sexual voyeurism and titillation, addingthat “mostUgandangirls lose their virginity by the time they are 14. At one AIDS-educationprogramme, secondaryschoolstudents told counsellors they couldn’t give up sex. . . because they liked it too much! Andmost of the teenagestudents admittedthey had intercoursewithout condoms EVERY day.” The article is surroundedby photographs of“orphans” and babies - stereotypical ‘African’ iconography - with captions that leave little work for the interpretivepowers of the observer and force the meaning of the accompanying photograph. For example: “The Agony behind apicture of innocence. For this tiny child, cursedby his parents’ sexual ignorance and living in permanent pain, thereis no future. . .“ There is also a close-up photograph of a nun captioned, “Sister of Mercy: Sister Margaret139The ‘AIDS in Africa’ narrative seems to contrast significantly with the varied and contradictorydomestic AIDS stories run. By contrast, the former narrative is both relativelymonotonous in toneand content, and long-running: very similar storylines, imagery, photographs, tropes andmetaphors are used again and again across all newspapers examined, including The New YorkTimes, The Washington Post, The Times, The Guardiar The Independenfl Newsweek and Time.A Continent’s Agony: The New York TimesThe first newspaper to run an ‘AIDS in Africa’ special was The New York Times. Their medicalcorrespondent Doctor Lawrence K. Altman filed a story headlined “AIDS in Africa: A Pattern ofMystery” from Kigali, Rwanda, in November 1985.17 This article introduces a number of themescommon to many of the media representations that were to follow. Though Altman reports fromRwanda, his specific geography is lifted, by the headline writers, to the mythical level of “Africa”which then allows a glib alliterative twinning of place and disease: “AIDS in Africa”. In eachreport, a few haphazard, spatially specific interviews and sets of statistics are taken to berepresentative of a whole continent and, as a result, an immense amount of diversity is denied.Africa, the continent, is four times the size of the U.S., contains more than 50 countries, 900ethnic groups and 300 language families, but journalists still feel able to speak authoritativelyaboutthe AIDS situation there. The apparently homogeneous and certainlymythic “Africa” that appearsin the media discourse is an imaginarytriggered by journalistic evidence drawn almost solely fromUganda, Rwanda or Kenya, but frequently powered it seems, more by a colonial discursive legacythan by the actuality of the situation in these countries. The totality of the continent is subsumedwithin the construct “Africa” and simultaneously much is excluded, to be replaced by stereotypeSullivan, her face etchedwith sorrow comforts the sad youngsters” when, in fact, her face actually appearsremarkably serene.The second spread saw more of the same imagery used: “For this land cursedby the deadlyvirus is rapidly becomingthe orphan hell-hole of the world. It is a country where ragged, lonely children like little GraceNamuwonge facehunger, back-breakingwork and poverty . .. alone.” The reporters also rely on a similar metaphor to Gould indescribethe AIDS situation in Uganda: “Throughout these AIDS-riddenvalleys of death, the misery and poverty isworsening.”The above articles build an offensive and racist portrayal ofUgandaand rely upon many ‘African’ stereotypes for theirtelling. Unfortunately, as will be shown, many of these same stereotypes also circulatedin more seriousnewspapers.17 The New York Times, 8 November 1985, p.!, p.8.140and cliché. For example, the Altman article stereotypically pairs “Africa” with “Mystery”, whichonce more acts to position both the continent and the virus outside existing spheres of [Western]knowledge, stressing the continent’s ultimate unknowability, the virus as external threat to thesystem rather than internal anomaly, and - since mysteries are there to be solved - the pressing needto deliver “Africa” from this state of confusion through the applicationof science and reason.Compared with later articles on the same topic, Altman’s work is scrupulously careful and veryeven-handed, especially on the origin issue. He states, “Africa has been the focus of attention forsome time, in part because some scientists have suggested that the disease may have originatedthere. However, others point out that it was first recognized, not in Africa, but in the UnitedStates, and that no scientific evidence has proved any theories about where it originated.” And,unlike Hooper and Gould, he does not then load his text with metaphors which generate meaningsrunning counter to this balance. He does, however, speak through the ubiquitous but anonymous“scientist”, “researcher” and “expert” - a common rhetorical tactic used in many of the ‘AIDS inAfrica’ representations. This takes away personal responsibility from Altman for the implicationsof his words, adds effective but spurious weight to his narrative, since the individuals are notcited, and concomitantly boosts these individuals as the sources of authoritative and objectiveinformationon ‘AIDS in Africa’, investing in the myth of objectivity. This tactic sidesteps the factthat the pronouncements, work and results of these ‘scientific authorities’ are neither neutral norinnocent of power. As has been shown, they are quite capable of articulatingthe same discoursesof racism and sexism that ebb through the ‘AIDS in Africa’ media narrative.This positioning of “scientists” as relaying neutral information is probably not surprisingconsidering Altman’s dual occupations - journalist and doctor - but it contrasts sharply with hisview of AIDS informationemanatingfrom Africans and their governments. He declares, “To thisreporter, who is also a physician and who has examined AIDS patients and interviewed dozens ofdoctors while traveling through Africa, the disease is clearly a more important public healthproblem than many Africangovernments acknowledge,” and he also notes, with apparent surprise,“Some African countries have refused visas to journalists inquiring about AIDS.” This Africa.141West dichotomy, which supposedly sees African governments actively politicising a neutralscientific and purely medical factual arena, recurs in most of the ‘AIDS in Africa’ articles. It maywell have been the case that African governmental obfuscation occurred, but they are not the onlyinvolved party with a political and power-laden stance - the whole issue of ‘AIDS in Africa’ isintrinsically politicised and criss-crossed by relations of power. A rational, reasoning andreasonable ‘West’ does not oppose a politicaland biased ‘Africa’.Altman’s article also provides the first explicit framing of ‘AIDS in Africa’ as a lesson for otherparts of the world: “scientists now generally believe the African experience, however it isultimatelydiagnosed, will almost certainly contain lessons vital to the health of people throughoutthe world”, with this lesson to be drawn from the supposedly heterosexual nature of AIDS on thecontinent. “AIDS appears to be spreading by conventional sexual intercourse among heterosexualsin Africa and is striking women nearly as often as men, according to researchers here.” This‘lesson’ positioning carries uncomfortable undertones, with Africans apparently dying so thatothers, the readers of the Western media narrative, can live. But there are also problems with thepremises upon which this over-simple positioning is based. The approximate 1:1 male:femaleHlVinfectionratio believedto exist in Africa is, unfortunately, obtained by using European and NorthAmerican statistical methods and classifications of sexuality. The sexuality of the people is readthrough imperial eyes and reduced to two categories - hetero and homo - which automaticallydenies any possible complexity of human sexuality in the African countries under scrutiny. “Therelatively recent emergence of the classificatory system of Western sexuality is by now ascompletely taken for granted and de-historicized as Linnaean taxonomy.”18 The very oddEuropean and North Americannotions of sexuality are taken to be the global norm and then usedas the lens through which to view the sexuality of others. The culturallycondescending conclusionreached, therefore, is that there is limitedhomosexuality in Africa.18 Watney, S. 1990: “Missionary Positions: AIDS, “Africa”, and Race” in Ferguson, R. et a! (eds.), Out There:Marginalization and Contemporary Cultures (Cambridge, USA: MIT Press), p.93.142AlthoughAltman’s article was probably one of the most balanced and least assertive pieces to bewritten in the ‘quality’ press, as the above examples show it still contains several strands of reworked colonial discourse. It was re-published in the InternationaiHerald Tribune for globalcirculationand its content led to the seizure of all shipments of the paper into Kenya - because of itsracist content and inferences, according to the Kenyan government, and because it simply aimed totell the Truth about AIDS in the face of African governmental denial, according to the Westernmedia.Little did the Kenyan government know what was coming! The New York Times continued toreport regularly but briefly on ‘AIDS in Africa’, but concentrated more heavily on the domesticAIDS situation. Their next special feature on the story was in August 1990 when they ran fourconsecutive full-page spreads titled, “AIDS in Africa: A killer rages on”, and serialised under thesubheading “A Continent’s Agony.”9 These reports were filed by Erik Eckholm and JohnTierney from Nairobi. Their subheading sees another ‘A’ added to the alliterativelist: “Agony”,and it is not a condition felt by the people, but by the very land itself, the whole continent. Thisconflationof ‘Africa’ and ‘African’ is a common colonial discursive trope: the two are used almostinterchangeably for each other in the media narrative. The continent is personified and imbuedwith a set of feelings and attributes stereotypicallyassumed to resemble those of the ‘African’, and,at the same time, the naturalness and primitiveness of the ‘African’ is stressed, as being close to theland, or almost the land itself. Both are portrayed as eternally suffering, reeling from a never-ending series of natural woes, of which AIDS is merely the next disaster in line. This emotivemedia angle positions AIDS and the resultant condition of agony as innate to Africa. Disaster,disease and suffering are naturalised, and extracted, once again, from any wider frames ofeconomic, geographical or historical understanding.In contrast to Altman, Tierney and Eckholm do not report ‘AIDS in Africa’ as an explicit lesson tobe heeded by the West. Instead, their report resorts to crass and offensive cultural and racialspeculation, gossip and hearsay in order to establish apparently fundamental and incontrovertible19 The New York Times, 16 September 1990, p.1, pp.14-15.143differences between, if I may borrow ironicallyfrom Gould, the sexual and cultural backcloths forAIDS in Africa and the West. This line of reporting acts to ‘other’ the disease within Africa andfurther reinforces a supposedly ‘natural’ causal linkage between ‘AIDS’ and ‘Africa’ to add to therepetitious literary linkage in the headlines of the discourse. Oilman argues that this strenuousdiscursive ‘othering’ of disease has a psychological root, allowing ‘us’ to feel safe.2° It iscertainly a pattern repeatedmany times in this discourse, with ‘Africa’ frequently positioned as therepository for disease and depravation.Tierney and Eckholm state that “in contrast with the pattern in the United States, AIDS in Africa isspreading mainly through heterosexual intercourse, propelled by long-neglected epidemics ofvenereal disease that facilitate viral transmission.” So, they suggest that HIV can be spreadheterosexually, but add that circumstances in Africa are sufficiently different from those in theWest to make comparisons between the two places worthless. They continue to focus,voyeuristically, on ‘African sexual difference’ [once again, presumably from Euro-Americannorms] throughout the article, noting that “Researchers are just now turning attention to little.known sexual practices that might also raise transmission odds. In parts of Central AfricaincludingZambia, Zaire, Zimbabwe and Malawi some women engage in a practice known as ‘drysex.’ In variations of the practice, designed to increase friction during intercourse, women useherbs, chemicalpowders, stones or cloth in the vagina to reduce lubrication and cause swelling.”Similarly, they declare, “surveys do show that extramaritalsex is commonplace in Africa” - unlikeNew York of course! And that “AIDS confronts Africans not only with death but with challengesto traditions. Sanford Mweupe of Lusaka, Zambia, was required by tribal tradition to have sexwith the widows of his brothers, who had died of AIDS.” This level of fascination with ‘African’sexuality - which repeats right through the media discourse - represents a continuation of colonialdiscursive trends and acts to reinforce ‘Africa’ in the Western imagination as site of ‘strange’ and‘primitive’ sexual practices. There are also hints that ‘Africans’ brought the disease on themselvesby engaging in these unnatural practices. This is an ironic formulation, since AIDS is at once20 Gilman, S. 1988: Disease and Representation: Images of Illness from Madness to AIDS (Cornell: CornellUniversity Press) p.262.144positioned as ‘natural’ to Africaand Africans, ‘Africa’, in turn, is seen as the ‘natural’ location fora disease like AIDS to develop and spread, but this spread is thought to occur via ‘unnatural’practices. Ironic and contradictorymaybe, but nevertheless a formulation that ties in to the similarmoralistic portrayals of gays in Europe and North America. AIDS is thus barricaded outside‘normal’ Western heterosexual society through literary exertion - mass publicity as prophylaxis.Tierney and Eckholm’s reports contain an overwhelming number of subtextual linkages andallusions which act to assemble a complex web of overdetermined meaning binding ‘Africa’,‘AIDS’ and ‘Africans’ together in a supposedly ‘natural’ triad, but one which is somehowunderpinned by ‘unnaturalness’ too. And, no doubt, this exceedingly uncomfortable level ofsexual voyeurism also sells newspapers.This whole series ofNew York Times articles is peopled by a cast of characters forming a narrativespine very familiar to readers of the ‘AIDS in Africa’ media discourse, including truck drivers,prostitutes, nuns and white doctors.21 As in Slim, events in Africa are frequently portrayed in thistheatrical manner: a play enacted for the reader’s benefit, with an ultimately tragic ending.Understanding of the AIDS situation in Africa is therefore couched within a theatrical narrativeframe, in the realm of caricature and stereotype, and this common framing prevents any seriousattempts to understand the actuality of the situation in explicit political, medical and economicdepth. There is a distinct risk, therefore, that readers are perhaps less likely to intervene than to sitback and enjoy the show. So, for example, when Tierney and Eckholm attempt to posit an HIV21 In searching for a new angle on the ‘AIDS in Africa’ story, several Western journalists have recently produced‘lifestyle’ pieces on long-distancetruck drivers in eastern Africa. These ‘human interest’ pieces allow the newspaperto sidestep the heated debates about ‘facts, figures and origins’ with the ‘intrepid’ journalist teaming up with a driverto document their ‘adventures’ on a particularjourney. The reports, not surprisingly, focus largely on prostitutionand the ‘wild and reckless’ nightlife at the truck-stops along the route. A central theme is the fatalistic attitude andbehaviour of the truckers’ with respect to AIDS infection. There is a real risk, therefore, of promoting a feeling ofhopelessness and, possibly, frustration in the reader- ‘if these men don’t care and continue to take sexual risks, thenwhy should I care. . . ?‘ Also, while these stories may emanate from a stance of downgradedfacticity’, the corollaryof this is an increasedamount of offensive voyeurism and cultural and sexual speculation. These reports includeConover, T. 1993; New Yorkei 16/8/93, p.56-75, “Trucking through the AIDS belt. Along the remote routes ofeastern Africa, long-distancetruck drivers have been affectionatelyreveredas cowboys in convoy. But now they arealso identifiedas the unwitting carriers ofAIDS, particularly in Rwanda, at the heart of the AIDS Belt, where theirinfection rate is fifty one per cent.” Also see Cohen, D. 1993: The Guardiat 11/12/93, p.28-35, “Road to ruin.We’ve heardthe statistics, we’ve readthe scientific speculation. But what is the reality ofAids in those countriesworst affected? David Cohen reports from a highway in Kenya where the virus is passed on like a baton in a relayrace.”145transmission mechanism, they turn to this cast of characters and suggest that “a small group ofinfected prostitutes passes the virus to large numbers of men who take it to their wives andgirlfriends. . . For many women, especially those with little education who have left the drearycocoon of the village, selling sex may seem essential for economic survival.” The wearyhopelessness of their tone suggests littlecan be done to alter the above situation and they also makeappallinglycrass and sweeping value judgements about life in an ‘African village’. A character isalso introduced in their narrative for explanatorypurposes who appears again and again throughoutthe ‘AIDS in Africa’ media discourse: the diseased and threateningprostitute, who passes the virusto others rather than has it passed to her - an awful but common historical positioning of ‘theprostitute,’ which acts to embody her as source of disease, in this case AIDS.22Finally, all the Tierney and Eckholm articles contain large photographs of single womensupposedly ‘suffering’ from AIDS. Females with AIDS, especially mothers, signify AIDS asheterosexual and as a very real threat to the family, thereby reinforcing one of the key messages ofthe media discourse. The first article leads with a photograph of a woman in bed inside a hut,captioned: “In Africa, AIDS is devastating young adults like this dying 28-year-old woman, right,near Masaka, Uganda. She was comforted by Maureen Nakimera, a social worker with an AIDSsupport group.” The second page contains a close-up shot of a woman breastfeeding. She staresback at the camera. The image is captioned, “Beatrice Habeenzy of Hamuntamba, Zambia, has lefther husband, who she thinks gave her AIDS. She has lost one child and the baby she is nursingmay be infected.” The second article contains a very similar image - a woman once again isphotographed holding a baby, but she looks directly away from the camera. The caption states,“This 28-year-oldZambianwoman found out she had AIDS last year when she visited a hospitalafter falling ill. She still has not told her husband.” I will discuss this imagery in more detail whenI turn to the mediarepresentations produced by Ed Hooper, since all the above photographs bear astriking resemblance to his own photographs of Florence. But there are, obviously, manyproblems with the imagery, both in its stereotypicalnature [with AIDS embodied in the supposedly22 Gilman, S. 1985: “Black Bodies, White Bodies: Towardan Iconographyof Female Sexuality in Late NineteenthCentury Art, Medicine and Literature” in Critical Inquiry 12(1), Autumn 1985, p.23 1.146long-suffering African woman and Africa portrayed as place of elemental pain], its implications[the situation there is presented as hopeless and African ‘victims’ merely await their fate], its effecton the reader [AIDS is individualised, stereotypically characterised and therefore depoliticised,perhaps triggering inertia in the reader], and, finally, in the probable invasion and intrusion uponprivacy that enabled the photographs to be taken and the subsequent objectificationof women thatoccurs.A New Agony: The Times of LondonAcross the Atlantic, despite a very different colonial history and set of relations to Africa, aremarkably similar media discourse was enacted. The media discourse on ‘AIDS in Africa’displays a dangerous and offensive homogeneity, with a very similar content in the U.S. andBritain, between newspapers and between articles. The discourse is site of monotonous repetitionand continual reinforcement of colonial frames of understanding, metaphors and images. Therewas very littlenew in the news where ‘AIDS in Africa’ is concerned.In Britain, The Times ran the first ‘AIDS in Africa’ special. Their three-part series commenced inOctober 1986 and was headed “AIDS: AFRICA’S NEW AGONY.”23 Over-simple alliterativepackaging of the situation occurs once again, with “agony” added to the seemingly inseparablepairing of “AIDS” and “Africa”. The insertion of the word “new” adds an extra twist to theheading since it implies that Africais a place of essential, timeless ‘old’ agony, with AIDS simplythe next in a long, long line ofwoes to strike the continent. The articles were written by ThomsonPrentice, the newspaper’s Science Correspondent, and the first was titled “A continent undersiege” and subtitled: “Africa, the cradle of civilization, may also be the birthplace of a disease thatcould destroy it.” Again, Africa is personified and in this case presented as being under siege.‘Africa’ and ‘African’ are used interchangeablythroughout the discourse and therefore assumed tohave the same set of characteristics. Prentice’s text is particularly explicit on the origin and source23 The Times, 27 October 1986, p.1, p.14, p.20.147of AIDS, perhaps the most overtly problematic and political of representational issues sincesourcing the virus so readily and seemingly inevitablyconnects to connotations of blame. And, aswas seen in the case of Gould, this sourcing serves absolutely no, more altruistic, purposes withinpopular representations. In this case Prentice portrays Africa as natural fount of life and death,able to give birth to a new, world-destroying disease. Hooper resorted to very similar imagery.Both journalists draw upon miasmic theories of disease generation in order to sustain a dramaticnarrativewhich envisages the very land itselfspewing forth disease and illness, an old and familiarcolonial trope.The first article in this three-part series included the quarter-page photograph of Beatrice, taken byNeveu on the AIDS ‘safari’ with Hooper, and captioned in a particularly crass, sensationalist andignorant manner: “Too young to know, too sick to move: Ugandan children, stricken with Aids,await their end inside a mud hut, far from doctors who could not help them much anyway.”24Beatrice lies on the bed in a shroud. There are faces at the window behind her and straw on thefloor of her dwelling. A small child rests his/her head on the end of the bed and stares at thecamera. The scene is classical, almost biblical: shroud, straw, child, light from a single window,mournful faces. The caption is appallingly inaccurate. The hut is not made of mud. Beatrice is awoman and she is already dead. There is only a single child in the room and s/he is perfectlyhealthy and quite able to move. Neveu, in fact, moved the child in order to obtain this particularcomposition. But together, text, caption and photograph act to reinforce images of ‘Africa’ as a“stricken” continent, a land of victims helplessly awaiting their inevitablefate.In the article itself, Prentice reinforces the positioning of ‘Africa’ as source ofAIDS, despite a veryweak attemptto maintainsome sort ofjournalisticbalance on the issue. He states, “Whether or notthe disease originated in central Africa - as many researchers suspect - or was imported from theUS and Europe - as Africansprefer to believe - international air travel means that Aids is beingexported virtually every day to the capital cities of the world” [my italics]. Detached, objective and24 The Times, 27 October 1986, p.14.148rational researchers ‘suspicions’ are here counterposedwith African ‘beliefs’! To which side doesPrentice incline? And whatever the initiallocationof AIDS, he has absolutely no doubt where theHIV is going from and to now, with AIDS apparently being “exported” from Africa by the plane-full. Africans are here positioned as disease-ridden threat to the rest of the world. Theimplications of these representations, and the next unwritten step in Prentice’s line of reasoning,would presumably be even tighter immigrationcontrols upon Africantravellers.Prentice opens his first article with the following: “The patients are gently lifted down from theback of open trucks that have brought themmiles along dusty, pot-holed roads [there seems to be ajournalisticobsession with pot-holes!]. . . They are young men and women suddenly made old.Some are babies who will never reach childhood. They arrive at the crumbling steps of the clinic.Haggard mothers with sickly children cling to their back.” This stereotypical African victimiconography has been seen many times before in Western media reports of famine, war, naturaldisaster and political turmoil. It is unlikely that such descriptive, value-laden imagery would beused in connectionwith similar events in the West, but it appears throughout the ‘AIDS in Africa’media discourse. Its repetitivehistorical use acts to essentialise ‘Africa’ as place of long-standing,unavoidable and natural suffering, thus reinforcing the use of the word “new” in conjunction with“agony” in the title of the piece, and displacing the discussion from the realm of politics andeconomics. The clinic steps are “crumbling”, but, it seems, that is just the way it is in Africa. Theimagery simply confirms what ‘we’ already know about the continent and no further or widercontext for the events are provided or ‘necessary’. Prentice then declares, “A catastrophicepidemic of Aids is sweeping across Africa, scarring the face of the continent and killing thousandsof men, women and children. The horrific picture, only now beginning to emerge, offers harshtruths and inescapable lessons for the rest of the world” with the lesson seeming to be the flawedand oversimple ‘fact’ that “in Africa Aids is essentially a heterosexually transmitted disease . .Homosexuality is rare”; the harsh truth being the ‘fact’ that “The scale of the African crisis . .stuns the imagination. . . [it is] a hideous, unmanageabledisaster”; and the reason that the horrificpicture is only just beginning to emerge being the political machinations and denials of Africangovernments - “Individual governments are reluctant to acknowledge the real scale of their Aids149epidemics.” True, perhaps, but if so there are reasons for this reluctance, and the African angle onthe epidemic is not the only one that is intrinsicallypoliticised.In the above representations the continent is again brought to life and seen to suffer as much as thepeople, with its ‘scarred face’ signifying its new agony. ‘Africa’ has long been constructed andrepresented as much more than a mere place in the Western imagination. It possesses an almosthuman geography, in the literal sense of the word, and is seen as embodying a contradictory mixof pure, maternal, innocent or life-giving characteristics, a long-suffering forbearance, and, at thesame time, as possessing innately threatening, infectious qualities - witness, for example,Hooper’s portrayal of Africa as both alluring and diseased, which is echoed in the mediarepresentations under examination. This derogatory ‘African’ imaginary echoes, recirculates,reinforces and legitimates earlier colonial discourse on Africa. Its use here may also have a veryreal impact on people’s lives. There is, of course, the possibility that these articles will drawattention to the issue and result in private and governmental efforts to alleviate the situationreported. Western media coverage of “Third World disasters” has often triggered surges of aid,charity and compassion. This response pattern may indeed repeat itself here, but with ‘AIDS inAfrica’ predominantlyrepresentedas a lesson to the rest of the world, as being “unmanageable” inAfrica, and as simply the next woe in a long line to the strike the hopeless and helpless continent,the reader may instead be led more forcefully to the conclusion that they should do nothing aboutthe situation other than save their own skins! This is speculation, but whatever the overall balanceof reader response to these representations, there is no doubt that they are also laden with manyderogatory connotations for their subjects: ‘Africans’. Positive and ameliorative discursive effectswould, if indeed manifest, be better provided by more sensitively constructed representations. Tobe fair to Prentice, he does end his article by calling for efforts to ease the epidemic, but, likeHooper in Slim, I feel that his text and subtext have long since escaped him.The second article, which appeared the following day, contains a similar weight of dubiousimagery. The mediapenchant for alliterationreaches ludicrous but dangerous levels in the title of150the piece: “Prevention versus Promiscuity.”25 These are neither opposites nor even mutuallyexclusive. Both can exist alongside each other within any strategy to combat AIDS, and Africansdo not have to choose between the two - unsafe sex is the problem, not sex per Se. In presentingprevention and promiscuity as an oppositional choice, Prentice is also reinforcing colonial imagesof Africa as promiscuous site of unbridled sexuality, and from here it is but a small step to amoralistic understanding of AIDS as an illness that is self-inflicted, when there is absolutely noevidence whatsoever to suggest that Africais any more or less promiscuous than anywhere else.Prentice files this second article from Burundi, “the very heart of central Africa, and at the core ofthe Aids epidemic that stretches right across the continent. Some scientists believe that the Aidsvirus originated somewhere among these majestichills and lush valleys, perhaps mutated from theAfrican green monkey, possibly carried unwittingly for generations among the Hutu peasantfarmers or the rival Tutsis who now rule Burundi” then brought to the capital, Bujumbura, byBurundians looking for work, who were “symptomlessly carrying the virus.” Hooper used a verysimilar set of imagery in Slim and Prentice is here relaying an immensely complex but troublingpositioning of ‘AIDS’ and ‘Africa’ and ‘science’, which is commented on by Patton.“Constructing AIDS as ‘old’ (if not primordial) and situating the virus in ‘Africa’ naturalized thedisease, reinforcing the view that science solves the problems thrown up by nature and society,and is therefore separate from both.”26 So, Prentice is here, in the space of one short paragraph:suggesting that AIDS originated in Africa, an extremely problematic siting as has been shown;sourcing AIDS more specifically in the “very heart of Africa”, again confirming and reinforcingwhat the Western consciousness already ‘knows’ about that mysterious, alluring but threateningimaginary place; and positioning AIDS as an ‘old’ disease that lay hidden within this “heart”,therefore outside spheres of Western knowledge, and arriving, via the “unwitting” primitiveAfrican, as an external agent to be dealt with by modern science, rather than a flaw within thesystem.25 Ibid., p.14.26 Patton, C. 1990: Inventing AIDS (New York: Routledge), p.69.151Within this intricate web of meaning, it is apparently Africa’s encounter with modernity that hasacted to shake the virus out into the open. Prentice suggests that AIDS existed “symptomlessly”,perhaps for generations, in the primitiveheart of Africa, prior to this encounter. He describes themechanisms of modernity and urbanisation which apparently released the virus as follows -Burundians “gradually lost some of their rural village traditions and codes of conduct. Men wholeft their families behind were able to marry again. . . and form countless liaisons with women.”Then bars sprout up in the urban areas and “girls, who learned that prostitution was as good asource of income as any in the overcrowded town, became regulars.” Hooper relied on the sameimagery to portray modernising Africaalmost as an AIDS manufacturingmachine. Here, Prenticeseems to suggest that Burundians were better off, both socially and physically, before the onset ofmodernity, which is a particularly romanticised portrayal of prior ‘African tribal existence’.Urbanisation is believed to disrupt traditionand result in the Sodom of the African city. A furtherimplication of this line of argument is the suggestion that Africans are unable to cope withmodernity. It is seen as an unnatural social state for them. AIDS would not have arrived on theglobal scene and the Africanwould be better off if only ‘primitive’ tribal structures were still intact!Prentice’s third and final article continues to focus on the supposedly hazardous African encounterwith modernity and urbanisation. It is titled, “Nightmare of a raddled city. . . Kinshasa the Aidscapital of the world.”27 To raddle means to apply a plastering of rouge to the cheeks in order tobeautify and cover up underlying blemishes, spots, blisters or signs of disease. Kinshasa istherefore explicitlygendered by this title, and represented as alluring on the surface but blemished,seedy and possibly dangerous or diseased underneath. Like Hooper and like many colonialreporters before him, Prentice portrays the African scape as feminine and betrays the ambiguous,anxious relationship of the Western male traveller to the continent, framed by a mixture of disgustand desire, fear and fascination. In this context, the imagery serves to further naturalise ‘Africa’ assite of self-inflicted, innate and threatening illness and disease, and once more displacesunderstanding of ‘AIDS in Africa’ from the practical medical and political realm into the27 The Times, 29 October 1986, p.14.152aestheticised but nevertheless dangerous realms of the colonial imaginary. This naturalisationtendency, which runs through much of the media discourse, is compounded by Prentice’s laterstatement: “Tragic, too, that a fatal flaw in the maternal instincts of most Africanwomen leads themto choose injections rather than pills for their sick babies.” This statement is divorced from anywider medical context and absolutely no evidence for the assertion is provided.28 Instead, Africanwomen are represented as instinctively and fatally flawed, acting out a self-destructive theatricaltragedy on an intrinsicallyand essentially unviable continent for the benefit of the reader. Then, infilling out this picture of the African urban Sodom, Prentice returns to focus on supposedpromiscuity and introduces, once again, one of the key characters in the ‘AIDS in Africa’ mediadiscourse, the prostitute, who is obj ectified as a source and reservoir of disease and seen asinfecting others but not considered as having been infected by someone herself: “Sexualpromiscuity is rife in Kinshasa, as in most central African towns and cities. Many men, if notmost, have numerous liaisons with different women, including prostitutes, who have been clearlyidentified in Kinshasa and elsewhere as reservoirs of Aids infection.”28 Why are these “African women” expectedto have understoodmodes of viral transmission before the Centre forDisease Control in Atlanta? Why do medical injections infect children in Africawhen they are portrayedas safe inthe West, and if the answer to this question is needle-sharingand lack of new equipment, what are the economicreasons for this difference?153Back to Buffalo Bill’s: The GuardianThis Times Prentice series was closely followed by a very similarthree day ‘AIDS in Africa’ set ofarticles in The Guardian written by Peter Murtagh.29 The Guardian is perhaps the most liberal ofthe high circulation ‘quality’ newspapers in Britain, but, unfortunately, their series reads just asoffensively as the above articles, with Murtagh repeating and reinforcing many of the same racistand sexist images, notions and tendencies. His articles accomplish the same conflation andoverwriting of geographies - they are subtitled ‘AIDS in Africa’ but Murtagh only visits Kenya andUganda. They are peopled by the same set of characters, and they are underpinned by the same setof crass generalisations and assumptions; for example, Murtagh authoritatively declares that “thedisease has spread along trade routes from its epicentrewest and south of Lake Victoria. . . manytruckers like nothing better than to round off a day’s work by visiting a prostitute.”3° Murtaghalso relies upon much colonial imagery for the telling of his story, and, in particular, once againpersonifies the African scape and imbues it with a mixture of danger and desire - in this case, hedescribes Mombassa as follows: “the port with its spicy mixture of Africans, Arabs, Indians andEuropeans, and the hint of dangerous excitement lurking in every dark corner”.31 Thus, thearticles contribute further to the relentless and monolithic repetition of derogatory imagery formingthe ‘AIDS in Africa’ discourse. However, The Guardianseries is of particular interest because thearticles intersect, dramatically,with looper’s story in Slim.The first Guardianarticleappearedon February 3rd, 1987, and was titled “A present from BuffaloBill”, with the subheading, “AIDS in Africa. Peter Murtagh begins his three-part report with avisit to the happy hookers of downtown Nairobi.”32 Sic! Murtagh commences with probably themost offensive sentence in the whole media discourse, stating that “The best time to observe theNairobi hooker is at dusk when the tropical sun dips beneath the Rift Valley and silhouettes thethorn trees against the African skyline. It is then that the hooker preens itsef and emerges to stalkits prey: The wazungu. The hookers head for the city’s hotels, bars, and nightclubs where they29 The Guardiar 3-5 February 1987.30 The Guardiai 3 February 1987, p.25.31 Ibid., p.25.32 Ibid., p.25.154know they will find herds of wazungu - white men looking for fun and with money to burn.The first night I walked into Buffalo Bill’s there was an Englishman at one end of the bar with alady on either arm. “Aids,” he shouted above the din, “I couldn’t give a fuck” . . . The bar closesat midnight and many of the customers head downtown to one of the city’s discos. If you hurry,you can catch the floorshow at the New Florida, a windowless flying saucer-shaped nightclubsuspended above a petrol station. Around midnight, the disco music stops and Wagner is put onthe turntable. The dance floor is taken over by three women and five men. . . the show reaches itsclimax when, to the accompanimentof Strauss, the men rip off the women’s trousers to revealfishnet stockings and suspenders” [my italics].Buffalo Bill’s is the Nairobi bar and restaurant frequented by Ed Hooper and many of the ex-patcommunity, and here Murtagh appears to be engaging in a spot of participant observation. Hestarts by objectifying these women and patronisingly portraying them as, first, “happy hookers,”and then as animals. Hooper, to recall, compared the women in the same bar to succulent steaks.Murtagh also echoes many of the other positionings of prostitutes in this discourse by suggestingthat they stalk and seize their prey. There is no conception that these women may themselves everbe placed under physical or mental threat, no attempt to analyse the situation from their point ofview or to question the economics that underpin the situation. This portrayal mirrors the frequentambiguous positioning of the African scape, with the locus of desire transferred onto the object ofthat desire, thus effacing or disguising colonial or neo-colonial agency and appropriativetendencies. The desire is then thought to be underpinned by a threatening danger, which, in turn,hides the real balance of power crossing the encounter. Murtagh’s lame attempt at participantobservation was presumably meant to portray, once again, the depraved African urban Sodom, butthe picture he paints seems remarkably tame and safe compared with most Western city centres atnight. And, as with all forms of participant observation, Murtagh neglects to consider that hehimse1f and his fellow ex-pats, are fully implicated in the truth of the situation he observes, asSlim itselfdemonstrates. The events are also aestheticised and dramatised in a form that mimics,ironicallyin the light of Hooper’s evidence regarding journalisticmovements and actions in Kenyaand Uganda, media representations ofAfrican safaris. The ‘seriousness’ of the news item is thus155downgraded to the level of entertainmentand titillation- it is unlikely that a domestic news itemwould be presented in such a manner.The above articlewas run along side a photograph of two female faces smiling at the camera. Thisphotograph was captioned: “For £25 Nancy and Susan will give a British soldier a good time.and possibly more.” The photography has an obvious symbolic effect on the reader. Again,women are objectifiedin the discourse and presented, like Hooper’s Uganda, Prentice’s Kinshasaand Murtagh’s Mombassa, as alluring on the surface but dangerous underneath. Murtagh leavesthe reader in no doubt as to which way he regards the HIV as passing in this potential interaction -from Nancy and Susan to the soldiers. But the photograph had a very real effect too, with Hooperfully implicated in this impact. Hooper states, “While in the Press Centre, I got hold of aphotocopy of the first article in Peter Murtagh’s three-part series on ‘AIDS in Africa’, which hadappeared in the Guardianat the beginning of February. Entitled’A present from Buffalo Bill’, andsporting a large photograph of punky Nancy and Afro-haired Susan, two of BB’s regulars,smiling full-face at the camera, it was a vivid reconstructionofMurtagh’s evening at the wild westbar . . . As it turned out, Murtagh’s article had an immediate impact on the lives of Nancy andSusan, and I was the unwitting catalyst. I was reading the article at Sue’s house, when one of hervisitors saw the photograph (captioned, ‘For £25, Nancy or Susan will give a British soldier agood time. . . and possibly more’), and insisted on borrowing it for five minutes. In fact, I didnot recover it until two hours later, by which time local legend had it that the two of them had beenphotographed because they had AIDS. I argued till I was blue in the face that this was nonsense,and not what the article said at all. Meanwhile, Nancy and Susan, by all accounts, were angrybecause they had been told it was just a quick snap, with nothing being said about publication in aBritish national newspaper. Whatever, their reputations were ruined, and very soon they stoppedcalling at Buffalo Bill’s.” Amidst this talk of representations, portrayals and images, it issobering to reflect on the fact that these stories and pictures are built upon the bodies, faces andHooper, E., 1990: Slim: A Reporte?s Own Story ofAIDS in East Africa(London: The BodleyHead),pp.160-161.156experiences of real people and that they can also have a shuddering, all-too-real direct impact onthese same people’s lives.The second article in Murtagh’s Guardian series was titled “Death is simply a fact of life,”reinforcing the discourse’s positioning of Africa as site of inevitable, monotonous and rapidturnover of cheap lives.34 This article contained another representation that similarly impacteddirectlyback upon its subject. Murtagh interviewed the Scottish doctor Wilson Carswell, who, atthat time was based in Kampala and “the leading authority on AIDS in Uganda.”35 The articlequotes Doctor Carswell as saying “Next year we’ll see the apocalypse. Come back to Kampalathen . . . there’ll be plenty of parking space.” The linking of AIDS and the apocalypse is acommon popular and moralistic framing of the disease, used not only in conjunctionwith ‘AIDS inAfrica’, but in connection with gay men with AIDS in the U.S. and Britain. This appallingframing suggests that AIDS is God’s wrath falling on a morally and physically unviable place orpeople, and, as such, is a just punishment for ‘unnatural’ behaviour. Shortly after this articleappeared, Hooper himselfattemptedto secure an interviewwith Doctor Carswell but was informedby the UNICEF representativein Uganda, “Well, I think Wilson may be in some sort of troublewith the government at present. I certainly don’t think he’ll be wanting to have any more dealingswith the press.” 36 Hooper did eventuallymanageto meetwith Doctor Carswell at a later date and,in Slim, he comments that Carswell “eventually said that his conversation with Murtagh had beenfor background use only, and that although he had made both remarks, about the Apocalypse andabout parking space, the latter had actually referred to Uganda’s chronic petrol shortage. Aboutthree weeks after the Murtagh piece came out, the Carswells were officially told they were nolonger welcome in Uganda.”37 Carswell’s apocalyptic metaphor may have had deliberatemoralistic implications, though Hooper suggests not and believes that Carswell is a sensitive andthoroughly committedman.38 Itmay have been simply a clumsy and careless comment, or it may‘ The Guardian 4 February 1987, p.24.35 Hooper, E., 1990: Slim: A Reporter’s Own Story of AIDS in East Africa (London: The BodleyHead),p.79.36 Ibid., p.156.Ibid., p.349.38 Interviewwith Ed Hooper, 16/2/94.157have been intended to shock Western readers into action. If Hoope?s account of the situation istaken to be true, one is led to the inevitableconclusion that Murtagh engaged in manipulation of hissource material in order to assemble a more powerful, dramatic and sensational narrative,emphasising the fact thatjournalists are engaged in the active construction of representations whichare subsequently capable of impacting, in shocking manner, on real people - not the simple andapolitical reflection of reality to the reader. However, their objectivist rhetorical dislocation fromthe social enables them to largely evade responsibility for their utterances.In the same article, Murtagh also documents his own AIDS ‘safari’ in Rakai province in Uganda -the same trip made by Hooper and, as these articles show, a favourite destinationof many Westernjournalists seeking eyewitness accounts, photographs and the testimony of ‘African AIDSvictims.’ Murtagh goes on to describe one such encounter on this trip. “Josephine Nnagingo livesin a mud and wattle farmhouse in the middle of her family’s field of banana trees not far fromKyotera, a few miles from the shores of Lake Victoria. . . Nearby. . . is the church. . . We madeour way to Josephine’s home as the chorus of happy voices in beautiful harmony wafted gentlythrough the banana trees.” Again, Africa is represented as serene and attractive on the surface,with death and disease lurking behind this veneer. . . “Josephine, who is 27, first felt ill aboutthree years ago, shortly after the birth of her fifth child. She got cramps in her stomach, began tovomit and developed chronic diarrhoea. She also has pains in her throat and chest, and a skin rashcovers much of her body. . . She is slowly starving to death and does not expect to survive muchlonger. The wasting of her body had made her head appear outsized, and her dress is now too bigfor her. Her arms and legs are desperately thin, and she moves only with pain.” A close-upphotograph of Josephine accompanies the article.A week later, a very similar encounter was described by Michael Serrill in Time magazine’s ownAIDS in Africa special report. Perhaps he and Murtagh were on the same ‘safari’? This reportwas entitled “In the grip of the scourge,” a positioning of ‘AIDS in Africa’ that echoes the earliernotion of AIDS as apocalyptic and also hints that the disease is morally self-inflicted, a158chastisement or punishment for wrong-doing.39 Serrill describes meeting “Josephine Najingo, a28-year-old mother of five who lives in the dusty Ugandan trading center of Kyotera. . . [she] isdying because she had sexual intercourse with her late husband [sic]. . . a prosperous trader. l Hername and age are slightly different to those provided by Murtagh, but a Time photograph showsthe same woman wearing the same dress. Serrill adds, “She knows she will die, just as thousandsof people in her town and the surrounding countryside have already died after being infected withthe AIDS virus. . . Fifty of Kyotera’s leading businessmen are dead. The streets are filling withhomeless orphans, the offspring of AIDS victims in outlying areas. Josephine, racked by fevers,chronic diarrhoea, throat lesions and a painful itching rash that covers her chest and arms, nowpasses her days sitting listlessly on a straw mat outside her house, waiting to die.”If thousands were dead and homeless orphans filled the streets, it seems strange that the samewoman should appear in both The Guardian and Time, and that only two women, Florence andJosephine, should appear as ‘evidence’ in seven of the largest news media print outlets in Britainand the U. S. I do not suggest that the story is myth, merely that its evidential foundations in theWestern press seem to be so shallow, shoddy and limited: one small area ofUganda, two day-tripsby, possibly, two separate groups ofjournalists, and two women.Serrill and Murtagh provide remarkably similar descriptions and photographs of Josephine’scondition and body and these, in turn, also resemble those of Florence that appeared in five otherother major newspapers and Slim itself. The ‘AIDS in Africa’ discourse thus relentlessly andmeticulously surveys and objectifies the bodies of ‘African’ women and offers up supposedevidence of AIDS written upon them. I will discuss the likely semiotic effect of this weight ofimagery in a moment, but it is clearly founded upon a sickening voyeurism. There is no way ofknowing if Murtagh and Serrill enact the same degree of invasion and intrusion as Hooper andNeveu but neither do they reflect upon their personal conditions of access to this woman nor- Time, 16 February 1987, pp.66-7.159contextualiseand situate the representations within a wider political, economic or medical framingwhich would act to counter their stereotypicalnature.Instead of supplying sensitive context, Murtagh further compounds the stereotypical nature of hisportrayal of Josephine with the following: “In a desperate search for help, people in the area haveturned to witchdoctors and herbalists. Some of the men around Kyotera who believe that Aids iswitchcrafthave sex with the widows of victims. . . Animal bones may be hung on the front doorof the patients home and the witchdoctor may prescribe dog soup.” Likewise, Serrill concludes hisTime article in similarly crass form: “Should AIDS somehow deeply invade heterosexualpopulations elsewhere, Africa has a stark lesson to teach about how suddenly and inexorably thedisease can erode and destroy the comfortableassumptions and familiar habits of a more advancedculture that believes itself immune to the most primitive- and frightening - forces of nature.” Thisis a muddled, and badly written conclusion, but, in addition to the Africa-as-lesson trope, Serrillseems to be suggesting that the West is a more advanced culture, far removed from primitive andnatural Africa yet still fragile and vulnerable, with AIDS capable of returning it to the primitive‘Africanised’ state from whence it came!The Use of Florence’s PhotographFinally, in this analysis of this particularmoment in the ‘AIDS in Africa’ media discourse, I wishto turn to a specific discussion of the photographs used to accompany the above articles, inaddition to those generated by Hooper and Neveu’s ‘AIDS safari’ and the image of Florence inparticular. It is evident that the discourse drew upon a disproportionately large number ofphotographs of single women or nursing mothers, each apparently ‘suffering from AIDS.’ Thepossible discursive reasons for this selection have already been examined. Here, I am, instead,concerned with the likely semiotic effects of this imagery. Hooper argues that his harrowingportrait of Florence would, if shown worldwide, demonstrate that AIDS is a threat to all, force160reflectionand behaviour changes upon complacentheterosexuals, and thereby save lives.40 Is thislikely to have been the case? And, are there any other implications stemming from the use of thesephotographs in conjunctionwith the news text and captions described above?This nature of this relationship between text and photographs is key in understanding the overallimpact of the media discourse. Approximately one third of the newspaper space devoted to each‘AIDS in Africa’ article is taken up with large print black and white photographic imagery. Thisimagery sits, as has been shown, within the context of a particularly offensive, frequently racistand sexist discourse on Africa. The text inflects and shapes the meanings granted by the reader tothese photographs. Thus, a particular news image is not necessarily stereotypical or racist bynature. It derives some of its meaning from its context and it is not inconceivable, therefore, thatthe same image of Florence could be used for radical ends if placed within a different narrative.Captions, in particular, are of crucial importance since they constitute informal instructions to theviewer on how to read and interpret that photograph. But photographs, in turn and given theirpredominant role in the news media, can also add meaning or inflection to the text. The twotherefore exist in a complex dialecticalrelationship with the reader. Unfortunately, the discourseunder examination is site of both stereotypical text and similarly tendencied, certainly notcontradictory, photographic imagery. The signs are not hopeful; quite literally, in this instance.To add to the formative images and articles documented above, images of Florence taken by EdHooper appeared in five further ‘AIDS in Africa’ media specials, issued within the same timeperiod, with two of these articles written by Hooper himself. A brief outline of these images andarticles fills out my analysis of the media discourse and further illustrates its monotonouslyoffensive nature. However, though I aim to discuss the photographic imagery appearing as part ofthis discourse, I do not wish to reproduce any of the photographs of Florence or the other womendescribed above. Once I knew how the photograph of Florence was taken, I felt increasinglyuncomfortable and voyeuristic looking upon it. To reproduce it, or others that are similar in40 Interview with Ed Hooper, 16/2/94.161composition and content, would simply not feel right. She has been exhibited enough. Myscholarship partakes of the exactly the same ideologicalconstructs it seeks to criticize and also actsto constitute Florence as object of analysis. I may be engaging in critique, but I am interested inFlorence for the same reasons as Hooper and his editors - as ‘black African woman with AIDS.’Similarly,just as looper gained personally from her photograph, I also hope, indirectly, to gain aqualificationupon the same foundations. The exhibiting of Florence here would not, I believe, belegitimatedby any claims to exception on the part of ‘scholarly-ness’. This would merely reconfirm a positivistic belief in what one sees as unproblematic - an ironic turn in the light of myearlier comments on Gould’s work. The knowledge of how Florence’s photograph was taken,though useful for criticalpurposes, operates only on an intellectuallevel. It cannot, unfortunatelyand tragically, put humanity back into the photograph. Description of the photographs willtherefore have to suffice.Florence’s photograph first appeared in The New York Times in September 1986 alongside a shortarticle written by Hooper himself, filed from Uganda and entitled “An African village staggersunder the assault of AIDS.”4’ As with all the other articles discussed, there is here both aconflation and simplificationof geographies. Uganda becomes the whole of Africa and in turn,‘Africa’, the imaginary, becomes Uganda. In the photograph, Florence has no discernibleexpression on her face. She is kneeling and facing to the right on the ground outside her house.She is very, very thin and resting on her knees is her baby boy. The child is naked, having been“unwrapped” for the benefit of the cameras, also very thin, and he has his eyes closed. Thephotograph is captioned, “Florence Nassaka with her 2-month old child in Kyebe, Uganda. Bothare suffering from AIDS.”The rest of looper’s article closely resembles sections of the ‘AIDS safari’ he documents in Slim,although the conventions of the media do not permit him the same degree of partial reflection uponhis actions as in his own book. He states, “The funeral ofMirina Nakalawa was just beginning in41 The New York Times, 30 September 1986, pCi, p.C3.162the compound tucked away among the matooke trees and coffee bushes. Her body had beenwrapped in bark-cloth, according to local tradition, and was laid out on a bed in a small room.Beside her, the women in her family were keening softly. Outside, the men sat in the shade of atree, some of them getting quietly drunk though it was only mid morning.” Thus, the reader isprivy to the same journalisticinvasion and intrusion, but not permitted to see exactly how Hooperhas gained access to this private occasion or to read how he feels. Instead, it is as if Hooper, andtherefore the reader, is a silent and invisible witness to the events described. This is the journalisticGod-trick in action, but, in contrast to his supposed value-less and objective stance, Hooperintroduces judgemental morality into the subtext, commenting on the men’s mid-morningdrunkenness.He goes on, “Florence was sitting in the sun outside her neatly kept hut of mud and stones,holding her two-month-old boy, Ssengabi, who was wrapped in a cotton sheet. Until a year ago,Florence had been a vivacious woman nearly six feet tall. She now appeared shrunken, her skindrawn taut around her skull. Very slowly, she unwrapped Ssengabi. He was pitifully tiny; thebones of his arms and legs showed clearly and loose folds of skin hung from his buttocks andthighs.” Once again, there is no space given to Hooper’s personal reflection on this scene or theunfolding events - it is as ifHooper is not bodily present. This journalistic abstraction and bodilyabsence is in stark contrast to the repetition of the same uncomfortable degree of bodilysurveillance and description enacted in many of the ‘AIDS in Africa’ articles, which, without anywider contextualisation, acts to reinforce the discourse’s tendency to position AIDS as innate toand essence of ‘Africa’.Florence’s photograph next appeared in November 1986 in the Newsweek ‘AIDS in Africa’special, titled “Africa in the plague years.”42 The article was written not by Hooper, but byNewsweek staff reporters and the photograph was supplied to the magazine by Hooper’sphotographic agency. It appeared alongside the caption, “Two victims: Uganda barmaid and son.”42 Newsweelç 24 November, 1986, pp.44-7.163The photograph has here undergone a significant shift in literary context and, therefore, inmeaning. Within Hooper’s article above, Florence’s photograph is illustrative of the truth of aparticular moment: Hooper’s encounter with her in Kyebe. Her body bears witness to itsoccurrence and to her own condition, to the existence of ‘AIDS in Africa.’ But, since thephotograph so closely resembles so many others seen in the Western media connected to ‘disaster’stories from ‘Africa’ and no wider, more sensitive explanation for the existence of ‘AIDS inAfrica’ is provided within the text - just more stereotyping and naturalising - there is also nothingto prevent the photograph being read, at a more general, mythic level, as situating AIDS as simplythe next woe in line to strike ‘Africa’ and explaining it as an innate disease of ‘Africaimess’. In theNewsweek story, Florence is nameless and tagged simply as a typical “victim” of ‘AIDS inAfrica’. The photograph thereforejust performs at the latter, mythic and stereotypic level. In fact,Florence’s photograph is probably used because it is such a good stereotype. The painfully thinbut stoic mother and son look exactly how ‘African AIDS victims’ should look. In this case, theybear witness not to the truth of their own encounter with Hooper, but to the apparent actuality oflife in “Africa in the plague years” - ‘Africa’ is clearly suffering, but as one would expect.However, the photograph does not just bear witness in this manner. Its stereotypical nature spinsoff into a particular explanation for the situation and, as above, since the text itself contains nowider explanatory context for the existence of the image or the condition, the photograph itselfserves to reinforce a reading of AIDS as simply innate to and essence of ‘Africa’. The Newsweekreport contains very little political, medical or economic information about the supposed epidemicand, like so many of the ‘AIDS in Africa’ stories, frames its account within an extremely limitedspatial and historical context. The article is filled out with similar victim iconography -anonymous “emaciatedpatients in a Ugandan AIDS ward” and “suspected AIDS victims in Zaire” -and anotherexampleofajournalistic’safari’ through Rakai in Uganda with its resulting intrusion,invasion and surveillance: “A typical victim is Teresa Namaganda, wasting away in her bed frommonths of ‘slim disease’ in the village of Kinyaga. . . In the tiny village of Simba, 24-year-oldGertrude Nalubega, a former housemaid, lies on a bed of straw. Once amply endowed she is nowa gaunt woman who can barely keep her food down.” The central function of this discourse seems164to be the exhibiting of “typical victims”, as both witness to, embodiment of and explanation for‘AIDS in Africa.’In June 1987, Florence’s photograph was next used in the ‘AIDS in Africa’ special run in TheIndependent. Titled, “This march of death will scar a generation” and written by Mary AnneFitzgerald, this one-page article used Florence’s image as centrepiece3 The photograph wascaptioned, “Africans call it ‘slim disease’ because of its emaciating effects.” Thus, Florence’sphotograph is used, once again, because of its stereotypical nature. She and her son are ‘quiteobviously’ thin and bear witness to the “emaciating effects” of “slim disease”, and they are ‘quiteobviously’ “African” too - after all, they look remarkably like so many of the other images ofAfricanwomen shown in the Western media. The photograph therefore serves the same purposesof evidencing, illustrating and explaining both the story and ‘AIDS in Africa’ as a whole, andperforms this function solely within the realms of myth, stereotype and imaginary. Thesurrounding text does nothing to counter this tendency; and, in fact, exacerbates and amplifies it.Fitzgerald remarks that “evidence points to Central Africa as the well-spring for the Aids virus onthe continent” and that “these doomsday predictions are coloured by a complex mosaic oftraditions, taboos, poverty, political upheaval and economic instability that are the continent’shallmarks. This ‘African condition’ as it is sometimes collectively called, makes it difficult toassess the incidence of Aids and to curb its spread.” So, AIDS is, apparently, both bubbling upfrom within the continent itselfand enabled by the “African condition.” Differenceon the continentis at once conflated and collapsed, and poverty, instability and upheaval are portrayed as innate to,and essence of ‘Africa’, rather than the workings of rational political and economic factors, aswould presumably be the case in the West. Fitzgerald seems here to be writing, instead, about‘Africa’ the colonial imaginary - a place capable ofmiasmicallygenerating a ‘new’ disease.Further photographs of Florence appeared in May 1988 on the cover of The Washington Post’sWeekly JournalofMedicine, Health, Science andSociety next to the headline “Out of Africa”, as a‘ The Independent 22 June 1987, p.8.165prelude to a story by Philip J. Hilts entitled, ironically in the light of the photograph on the frontcover and the messages about AIDS and origins given off by the headline, “DispellingMyths aboutAIDS”.44 The photograph was also used by The Independent on Sunday in conjunction with anarticlewritten by looper himselfat the time of the publicationof Slim - April 1990. The piece wastitled “The villages of the damned” and was remarkably similar to his earlier article in The NewYork Times, discussed above, with his ‘AIDS safari’ and visit to the three women described, butwithout the personal reflection that appears in Slim .‘ The title of the article echoes othermetaphors used within this media discourse, of AIDS as ‘apocalypse’ or ‘plague’, visited upon aphysically and perhaps morally unviable population, althoughwithin the article itself Hooper givesthe issue a fairly sensitive reading and avoids any such crass positionings.46 The photograph wascaptioned “Florence and her baby son, Ssengabi, at Kyebe in 1986. Within six months, both weredead.”The ‘AIDS in Africa’ media discourse therefore contains an extraordinary number of classicallycomposed and stereotypical images of ‘African women’ as silently suffering ‘victims’, set withintext that serves only to amplify this stereotypical tendency. These news photographs perform anumber of semiotic functions within the media discourse, and they are integral to its overall effecton the reader. Hall, Margolis and Webster argue that photography is unique in its fusion of bothsymbolic and iconic functions, and it is this fusion that gives them immense semiotic power withinthis, or any, media discourse. The iconic function grants photographs considerable force or‘thereness.’ They are deemed to be objective, a witness to actuality. News photographs arethought to transmit an authentic reality to the reader, denoting that which is. In contrast, theirsymbolic function is generative of myth, triggering emotional content and meaning beyond theWashington Post, Health Journal, 24 May 1988, p.1, pp.12-16.‘ The Independenton Sunday, 1 April 1990, pp.9-10.46 Hooper states that he didnot choose this title. He handedhis copy over to the newspaper and subeditors set theheadline. As with the packaging of his book and the caption applied to Neveu’s photograph of Beatriceby TheTimes, it seems to be the case that a more sensationalist, and presumably marketable, slant is often put on the workof the journalist by the newspaper’s staff. Interview with Ed Hooper, 16/2/94.47 Hall, S. 1973: “The determination of news photography” in Cohen, S. and Young, J. (eds.), The Manufacture ofNews (London: Constable), p.229. Margolis, E. 1988: “Unearthing the Meanings of Historical Photos” in RadicalHistory Review 40, p.34. Webster, F. 1980: The New Photography: Responsibility in Visual Communication(London: John Calder).166ability to describe verbally. This function does not involve new knowledge about the world; theideological and symbolic concepts embodied in photographs and texts produce recognitions of theworld as one has already learned to appropriate it. Photographs pull on and trigger ideological andmythic associations, resonate within the realm of the reader’s ‘already known’ and furtheruniversalize and valorize the subjects and associations triggered. This symbolic function thereforesees photographs connote, as well as denote, and they are thus simultaneously vague and precisein their meaning.The iconic, precise function of news photography adds authority to the articles and simultaneouslyguarantees and underwrites the narrative’s ‘objectivity’. The photograph is, apparently, apowerful record of the ‘facts’ relayed in the text; a rubber-stamping of their veracity: ‘this reallyhappened, see for yourself! News photographs are thus a rhetorical device and a key part of thejournalistic God-trick, since they help to neutralize or disguise the ideological function of thenewspaper and convince the reader of the ‘objective’ nature of the particular story. The nature ofthis powerful tricking iconic or rubber-stamping function is exposed by the manner in whichFlorence’s photograph, because of its stereotypical nature, is used to testify to the veracity of somany stories, ‘facts’ and ‘truths’, and in so many ways: when alive, when dead, as Florence, asvictim, as barmaid, as mother, as African woman, as thin, as emaciated, as suffering .Similarly, Beatrice’s photograph is used to testify to the ‘truth’ of the existence of dying children inUganda even though this ‘truth’ bears no relation at all to the literal, as opposed to representational,content of the image.This ‘objectivity’ is enabled by the effacement, in the image itselfand in the accompanying text, ofthe specific social engagement resulting in the photograph: the negotiation between photographerand subject. The inclusion of this engagementwould reveal - as can be seen from the informationHooper gives in Slim on the photographing of Florence - that the image is the highly specificproduct of a particular moment and a situated individual, and that the taking and selection of thatphotograph was therefore an intrinsically ideological, power-crossed act. Thus, by appearing towitness an event or situation unproblematically, photographs suppress their selective, interpretive,ideological function. The iconicity or ‘thereness’ of news photography, perhaps even more so167than the ‘objective’ rhetorical stance adopted in the accompanying text, tends to overpower thereader’s critical faculties and disguises the semiotic work done by the photograph on the mythic,ideological and symbolic level. The photograph seeks “a warrant in that ever pre-given, neutralstructure, the real world” and uses this warrant to launch, surreptitiously but powerfully, into thesymbolic dimension.48 The news photograph is thus able to function as both the final term of thenewspaper’s denotative chain and as the first term in the potentially dangerous connotative,symbolic, mythical and ideological dimension. I wish to focus on three possible derogatory andintertwining ideological connotations that may spin off from the photographs of female ‘victims’used in so many articles in the ‘AIDS in Africa’ discourse. But, in contesting this imagery, it isstill vital to hold with the partial truths of these images. To dismiss them entirelywould be to denythe suffering of those framed within. Critique must therefore take place not in relation to the ‘truth’of the image, but in relation to the conditions of its literal and aesthetic construction, itssurrounding context and to its social effects.49Firstly, these photographs focus explicitly on a single woman’s body and, often, her baby. Hallargues that this focus on the body inflects or displaces the story away from its politicalpoint.5°Hedescribes the use of this manoeuvre or transformation in many different situations and believes thatit is one of the most powerful vehicles in the rhetoric of news photography. In this case, thesewomen’s bodies are offered as evidence of ‘AIDS in Africa’ but they also constitute its boundaries,which are therefore drawn far short of political, economic and medical factors such as governmentinaction, inaccessibility of health care, racism and sexism. This personalised, apolitical andisolationist framing of ‘AIDS in Africa’ is, as has been seen, compounded and reinforced by thespatial and historical isolationist framing of the situation in the text, together with the tendency tonaturalise AIDS as essence ofAfricarather than explore politico-economicreasons for the apparentepidemic. Crimp analyses images of people with AIDS in the U.S., but his words still apply here.48 Hall, S. 1973: “The determinationof news photography” in Cohen, S. andYoung, J. (eds.), The ManufactureofNews (London: Constable), p.241.9 Crimp, D. 1992: “Portraits of People with AIDS” in Grossberg, L., Nelson, C. and Treichler, P. (eds.), CulturalStudies (New York: Routledge), p.126.50 Hall, 5. 1973: “The determination of news photography” in Cohen, S. and Young, J. (eds.), The Manufacture ofNews (London: Constable), p.229.168He argues that, “the privacy of the people portrayed is both brutally invaded and brutallymaintained. Invaded, in the obvious sense that these people’s difficult personal circumstanceshave been exploited for the public spectacle, their most private thoughts and emotions [and bodies]exposed. But at the same time, maintained:the portrayal of these people’s personal circumstancesnever includes an articulationof the public dimension of the crisis, the social conditions that madeAIDS a crisis and continue to perpetuate it as a crisis. People with AIDS are kept safely within thebounds of their private tragedies.”51 This photographic focus on the isolated person acts toabstract the experience of living with AIDS away from the determining context of health careprovision, the state, politics and economics. It also acts to construct boxed, framed and isolated‘victims’: “whether we are shown black Africans or American gays, the person with AIDS isinvariably imprisonedwithin the demeaning category of the ‘victim’, in which he or she is strippedof all power and control over the actual complex meaning and dignity of an individual’s life.”52The sheer weight of images of people alone, suffering, ravaged, labelled as ‘victims’ andapparently resigned to their deaths may reinforce a sense of hopelessness in the reader and result ininactivity, since the situation appears to be both private, not political, and to be a tragic, foregoneconclusion. This possibility clearly runs counter to Hooper’s hopes for his photograph ofFlorence.Secondly, news photographs are, in addition to their pretensions to depict a pure or whole reality,intrinsicallyaesthetic devices. They follow formal rules of artistic composition and content, so, forexample, “a mother holding her starving infant is photographed in the manner of the Piet4 evokingnot so much pity as the acknowledgement of the aesthetic representation of pity. The photographis not the sign of starvation, but the sign of a sign, removing itself from the reality of starvation asit strives towards iconicity.”53 Spun, here, was discussing stereotypical ‘Third World’ ‘victim’imagery, but he could, almost exactly, have been discussing several of the images of women that51 Crimp, D. 1992: “Portraits of People with AIDS” in Grossberg, L., Nelson, C. and Treichler, P. (eds.), CulturalStudies (New York: Routledge), p.120.52 Watney, S. 1990: “Photography andAIDS” in Squiers, C. (ed.), The Critical Image: Essays on ContemporaryPhotography (London: Lawrence andWishart), p.183.Spurr, D., 1993: The Rhetoric of Empire: Colonial Discourse in Journalism, Travel Writing, and ImperialAdministration (Durham, USA: Duke University Press), p.52.169appeared in the newspapers alongside ‘AIDS in Africa’ stories, including Hooper’s photograph ofFlorence. There is therefore a risk that these images and, in particular, the photographs ofFlorence, are so ‘obvious’ in their semiology, so stereotypical, so resonant and connotative ofother images, both photographic and classical, that they merely act to aestheticise these women’sbodies, their suffering and ‘AIDS in Africa’. Indeed, it is probably this incredibly resonant,classically satisfying nature that ensured the image of Florence would be used in so many differentpublications. There is little in the text surrounding the images to counter these stereotypingtendencies.More specifically, these images act to boundary AIDS within the unique body of the ‘African’.These ‘victims’ are clearly ‘African victims’, with a special and distinct set of attributes andconnotations. This leads to a third set of derogatory ideologicalconnotations which resonate with,draw upon and flow from the legacy ofWestern colonial and neo-colonial images of and discourseon ‘Africa’ and the ‘African’. Images almost identicalto those of Florence, Josephine and Beatricehave been seen so many times before in the Western media. These new photographs are read andused within this legacy and, in composition and content, themselves “fit neatly into the pre-existingWestern image of a wasting continent peopled by victim-bodies of illness, poverty, famine.”54These bodies bear witness to the apparent existence of ‘AIDS in Africa’ but also put a distinctinterpretativeslant on the disease, the place and the people, which overlays and reinforces the depoliticising personalisation arising from both their content and composition and from the limitedframing within the accompanying text. These stereotypical images of the ‘African woman’ bringpowerful imaginary personal and geographical attributes to bear upon the situation, isolated fromany relevant social and political context, as definition of, and explanation for, ‘AIDS in Africa’.This, in turn, reinforces the validity and applicabilityof this imaginary. So, ‘Africa’ is positionedas place of woe, elemental suffering and hopeless travail and as innate generator of disease;‘Africans’, and women in particular, are, once again, pictured as silent, emaciated and listlessvictims, awaiting their inevitableand natural fate, a people already dead to all intents and purposes;Patton, C. 1990: Inventing AIDS (New York: Routledge), p.83.170and AIDS, though variously seen as sprung from the land itself or externally visited on a‘deserving’ people, is pictured as the next woe in line to strike the continent, essence of the landand people. AIDS and Africaare thus rolled up by the text and photographs of the mediadiscourseinto a neat self-determiningpackage, explainedwithin the realm of myth and ideology and withoutrecourse to wider political, economic and medical factors.Anxieties and AmbiguitiesHaving traced a path through the newspaper text and images that form this ‘AIDS in Africa’discursive moment, it is necessary to step back and attempt to reflect upon the discourse as awhole, rather than upon particular fragments of it. From this latter position, the discourse reveals amonolithic and repetitive veneer of assertiveness and offensiveness - with ‘Africa’ and the‘African’ positioned as objects of this relentless and derogatory sledging. Yet, behind this veneer,the discourse is riddled with fissures, friction, tension, ambiguity, logical inconsistency, anxietyand contradiction.This discursive complexity and contradiction stems from the nexus of meaning produced, at thatspecific moment, by the juxtaposition of ‘Africa’ and ‘AIDS’. The economic and geographicalnature of the discourse results, once more, in a Western chronicling of ‘Africa’, and this, in turn,unavoidably situates the discussion within the legacy of centuries of colonial discourse upon thatcontinent. ‘Africa’, the imaginary, is an immensely powerful and resonant construct within theWestern consciousness and the images and texts produced within the discursive nexus do notescape its forming and shaping influence. In fact, they act to newly encode and legitimatemanyexisting colonial and neo-colonial positionings, framings and understandings of ‘Africa’, and, inthis process of encoding and legitimating,also freight in many of the ambiguitiesand ambivalenceslatent within ‘Africa’ the imaginary. Stereotyping of this nature is far from a straightforwardrepresentational process. Bhabha, for example, argues that the colonial power is subject to theeffects of a conflictualeconomy and that the colonial stereotype or trope is a complex, ambivalent,contradictory mode of representation, as anxious as it is assertive. The representations then171constructed within this economy will therefore evidence a profound ambivalence towards “that‘otherness’ which is at once an object of desire and derision.”55 This ambivalence andcontradictioncertainlymanifests itselfwithin the ‘AIDS in Africa’ media discourse, where ‘Africa’appears as discursive site for an anxious play between sameness and difference, desire anddisgust.It is likely that many Western media representations of ‘Africa’ - whether portraying famine,disaster or war - would evidence the same anxieties and ambivalences, with these ambiguities alsostemming from the colonial discourse upon which the representations draw, often quite directlyand blatantly. However, the ‘AIDS in Africa’ discourse seems to add an extra twist to this anxiousplay of same and different. The addition of ‘AIDS’ to the nexus both amplifies and exacerbatesthis play and makes each of the contradictory ambivalent feelings about ‘Africa’, in turn, morepointed and purposeful than is perhaps the case in general media representations of the place.‘AIDS’ brings its own epidemic of significationto the discursive moment, generated as individualsand societies attempted to grapple with what, exactly, this apparently incurable and seeminglyinexorable and fatal disease meantThe ‘AIDS in Africa’ story is frequently relayed to the Western reader as a conscious lesson for‘us’, white Western heterosexuals, to learn; and this lesson is therefore centrally founded upon apremise of sameness: that ‘we’ are the same as ‘them’ and consequently vulnerable to exactly thesame patterns of disease. However, not only is this premise of sameness founded upon flawedassumptions [assertions of sameness can be motivatedby ignorance and racism just like assertionsof ineluctabledifference] and revealing of selfish motivations [with Africa presented as a hopelesscase, let ‘us’ concentrate upon saving ourselves], it also seems to be, at all turns, undercut andundermined by strenuous amplificationof the colonial discursive tendency to assert fundamentaland offensive differences between Africaand the West. These assertions seem to be motivated bydefinite but ultimately indeterminate high anxieties, including, perhaps, a psychological desire orBhabha, H. K. 1983: “The Other Question” in Screen 24(6), p.19.172need to ‘other’ AIDS within Africa, blame the people there for its arrival upon the world scene andthen barricade or confine it metaphorically within that place. The ‘AIDS in Africa’ mediadiscourse, like colonial discourse in general, thus says as much about the West as Africa, and isriven with the tensions of individuals and societies attempting to battle with the metaphorical andpsychological implications of ‘AIDS’, with this battle enacted upon the terrain of the imaginary,‘Africa’. The ‘Africa-lesson-same/Africa-not-lesson-different’ contradictionprovoked by ‘AIDS’overlies and amplifies very similar, pre-existing contradictory impulses latent within colonialdiscourse on ‘Africa’. In effect, therefore, the addition of ‘AIDS’ into the general Western mediadiscourse on ‘Africa’ acts to turn up the volume on its anxious and contradictory assertions ofsameness and difference and on the many individual stereotypings and positionings used asevidence for these assertions.Yet another tension and trigger of complexityis added to the ‘AIDS in Africa’ media discourse bythe contradictory demands of the medium itself. These newspapers couch their work and rolewithin the rhetoric of objectivism and an altruistic search for, and uncovering of, the Truth. Thisrhetorical stance disguises the fact that the news is neither objectivenor a mere reflectionof reality -it is intrinsicallysituated and socially constructed. This is not to deny the possibility that ‘sociallyconstructed’ news can then help; even, for example, in improving the lot of those people withAIDS in Africa. Altruisticmotives do drive some elements of the ‘AIDS in Africa’ discourse. Butit must also be recognised that these stories and pictures are commodities too, intended to attractreaders and to be easily consumed. This money-making function seems to be just as big aformative influence in the ‘AIDS in Africa’ discourse as altruism given the number of cheap andeasy stereotypes resorted to, and to the level of gossip, racist hearsay and titillation used tounderpin supposedly well-researched articles. The nature of the discourse as commodity istherefore likely to act as a further amplifying boost to some of the assertions of ‘strange andfascinating’ differencewhich span it.Thejuxtapositionof’AIDS’ and ‘Africa’ within a media discourse therefore bloats and strains theresulting nexus with meaning and metaphor, and criss-crosses it with amplified tensions, fissures173and contradictory impulses: of sameness and difference, of distance and closeness, of disgust anddesire, of fear and pity, of altruism and greed, of an urge to help and an urge to stare, of hope andhopelessness, of pasts and possible futures, and of what is deemed natural and unnatural forparticular societies and people. These contradictory and ambivalent impulses both workthemselves out within the individual representations produced and are re-triggered by them. So,for example, Africa is at one and the same time portrayed as the same as the West and therefore auseful lesson to ‘us’, but also as land of innate and essential woe, travail and disease, intrinsicallydifferent to the West and, to all intents and purposes, a hopeless case. This stress on offensivedifference tends to overwhelm the message of the lesson. Similarly, Africa is seen as the cradle ofcivilization, the source or birthplace of all human life and also as the source of its potentialdeath, inthe form ofAIDS. The West is pulled towards Africa and is itself sourced there, but at the sametime pushes itselfaway and attempts to stress, again, its difference and, hopefully, its subsequentsafety from contamination. A further twist to this discursive push and pull is the hope, voiced inseveral of the articles, that the cycle of life and death will turn again and that Africa will also proveto be the source of life in the shape of a vaccine or cure for AIDS. Africa is thus seen as bothmother of life and of death; desirable, benevolent and promising on the surface but deadly,treacherous and dangerous underneath. This ambivalent play of disgust, danger and desire windsitselfright through the media discourse.Some of the above articles are fairly specific and name Africaas likely source and origin of AIDS,while others perform a more subtle dance, carefully balancing the words of ‘experts’ and‘researchers’ but ultimately, in their subtext and choice of metaphor, sourcing AIDS in Africaequally conclusively. However, when the articles attemptto flesh out originary mechanisms, theyrun once more into a morass of contradictions. So, AIDS is represented as coming from bothwithout and within Africa, from above and below. The former positioning sees AIDS as a plagueexternally visited upon the continent with the resulting connotations that [Christian] God ispunishing its people, presumably for their unnatural and immoral sexual practices and the chaos oftheir society. This metaphorical positioning is contradicted, often in the same article, byrepresentations that suggest that AIDS spewed from within the land itself and is, therefore, the174very essence or nature of Africa. Some articles then attempt to elaborate on this miasmicgenerating mechanism and link its operation to the impact of modernity on the continent. Thiselaboration sees AIDS generated within the heart of Africa, but latent and harmless untildevelopmentand urbanisation flush it out of this natural hiding place. Africans, apparently, eithercannot cope with modernity or they have failed to develop properly, with the result that the naturalbehaviours and balances, appropriate to both primitive, tribal Africans and a restrained and culturedmodernity, are upset, unleashing AIDS to prosper in this chaos.It is perhaps, however, dangerous to lay too much emphasis upon the tensions, illogicalitiesandcontradictions within the motivations for the ‘AIDS in Africa’ discourse and appearing, on closeexamination, within the representations themselves. Again, to overstress complexity at thisdetailed level is to detract from the simple fact that this discourse is site of many, many crass andoffensive racist and sexist representations. Likewise, to proffer anxiety as a trigger of over-assertiveness is not to provide an excuse for the violence within these images. Article after articleportrays Africaand Africans in, perhaps ambivalent, but nevertheless stereotypical and derogatoryfashion. Triggering disgust or desire, natural or unnatural, giving life or spewing death, drivensexual deviants or hapless and hopeless victims. . . they are grasped as functional objects and losein this discourse time and time again. And loss within discourse is not simply a matter of thensuffering, like the bearer of a bad passport photograph, an ‘untrue’ representation. Theserepresentations are a matterof life and death, and, on the grand scale, they form a monolithic andrepetitive popular geography, crushing in its weight and single-minded in its stridency,assertiveness and offensiveness, even if this assertiveness betrays anxieties and hidescontradictions buried within. This geographical knowledge, promulgated by the ‘AIDS in Africa’media discourse and mirrored or echoed in many texts elsewhere, including the work of Gould,Shannon et al Smallman-Raynor et a4 and Hooper, is likely to provide the dominant frame ofunderstanding of the ‘AIDS in Africa’ issue and situation for individuals in the West. Enteringspeculative territory now, what is the likely nature of this understanding and what effects couldresult from such a framing?175ConclusionText and photography combine and collude in the discourse to reiterate a positioning of Africa asthe colonial imaginary ‘Africa’: site of elementalsuffering, hopeless travail and innate generator ofdisease, whether spewed from below or drawn from above. Africans, in turn, become ‘Africans’:sexualised and gendered characters in a theatrical drama; silent, emaciated and listless victimsawaiting their inevitable fate; and sexually promiscuous deviants driven by unnatural urges, hell-bent, quite literally. But always, whatever the variation, the African is merely a body or signifyinghusk - never a social subject - used, in every sense of the word, in conjunction with theconnotations of the colonial imaginary ‘Africa’, to explain ‘AIDS in Africa’ at the level of myth andcolonial hearsay and, perhaps, to entertain and titillate the reader. And finally, AIDS, whetherfrom without or within, is presented and embodied as a disease of quintessential ‘Africanness’.This imagery may well be riven with tension and logical contradictions, but the colonial legacymeans that it merely confirms what ‘we’ already know about Africa and Africans, and logic istherefore perhaps overpowered by the imagination.The interweaving tendencies of these representations to personalise and ‘Africanise’ ‘AIDS inAfrica’ diverts and inflects the discourse from the explicitly political and sites understanding andexplanation of the situation within the realms of ideology and myth, rather than within the overtrealm of politics, economics and medicine. This inflection away from an explicit and sensitivepoliticaltreatmentis emphasised by the consistently isolationist framing of the discourse, in whichAfrica is discussed as a separate spatial unit divorced from any deep or considered historicalcontext, and compounded by the aesthetic form in which newspapers offer up these representationsfor consumption. It is also further aided and abetted by the journalistic rhetoric of objectivitywithin which the stories are couched. The iconicity of news photographs and the rhetoric used totell these stories, reinforced by textual hints that Africans themselves are biased and overtlypolitical when they speak on the same topic, acts to efface the author’s direct presence in thenarrative. This effacementremoves all traces of the journalist’s impact on and involvement in thesituation. Also effaced, therefore, are the wider systems and powers that enable his/her presence176in Africa, affect that continent via this presence, and link the journalist to the reader, generally aspart of the same political and economic unit as the journalist, and more specifically, as consumerand partial funder of the representations constructed by them. Western readers are thus furtherdistanced from the actuality of the ‘AIDS in Africa’ situation, and their understanding isconstrained both by the factthata key part of this actualityis closed off to them, and by the mannerin which the rhetoric of objectivity disguises intrinsically constructed and situated representationsas rational, reasonable and universal Truth, transparent and innocent of power.However, Hooper’s work alone revealed these media representations to be both personally andpolitically situated and socially constructed, and the above examination of them also reveals theircontent to be intrinsicallypolitical- anything but a transparent relaying of the Truth about AIDS inAfrica. Power therefore embraces the making of these representations. Indeed, it is a huge andforceful implicit presence in the construction of the representations that enables such an explicitauthorial absence within them and that motivates their distancing tendencies. On a small scale,traces of this forceful presence are apparent in Hooper’s actions, thoughts and movements in Slim,and, on a larger scale, similar imbalances in power are evident in the simple fact that the ‘AIDS inAfrica’ media, medical and economic discourse, as played out on a global scale, so often takes theform of a Western chronicling and overwriting of ‘Africat. Within the media discourse inparticular, there are extraordinarily distinct lines of power drawn, in terms of who can speak andhow that speech is then reported, and who is represented and in what form. The losses from thisimbalance seem to fall all too heavily upon Africa, the African and the person with AIDS.Unfortunately, even this piece of work - a chronicling of the chronicling - is not excluded from areification of this imbalance. However, to hint at the operation of power behind, within andthrough these ‘AIDS in Africa’ representations is not then to immediatelylay the ‘blame’ at the feetat one or other of the ‘evils’ of capitalism, neo-colonialism or patriarchy. These factors arenecessarily entwined within any explanationof the workings of this discourse, but the whole is farmore complex and elusive than these coarse templates suggest. Hooper’s work allows one to tracethe first glimpses of the more subtle constellations of power and knowledge embracing some ofthese ‘AIDS in Africa’ representations, but further work is clearly needed to fill out this picture.177And further work is needed too on the possible impact of this shocking and distinct ‘AIDS inAfrica’ popular geography - I can only speculate here.These media representations will clearly have a range of impacts on different people. Limited goodmay stem from them if they trigger the reader into offering aid or assistance to the area or provokebehaviour changes. Unfortunately, however, the set of representations examined do not, on thewhole, seem to give the reader much reason to act upon what they read about ‘AIDS in Africa’.Neither in changing their own behaviour, since the positioning of the situation as a lesson and anyaltruisticmotives in producing the representationseem to be overwhelmed by countervailingtextualand subtextual messages and connotations that ‘AIDS in Africa’ is intrinsically different. Nor inintervening and acting to help Africa, since the weight, tone and nature of the imagery suggests thatAIDS is on such a scale there that the continentmay as well be abandoned to its fate and that deathof this nature is simply Africa’s lot, with another new agony likely to follow even if AIDS isstopped. The possibilities for intervention are themselves framed in extremely limited terms bythese representations - sending money to a charity seems to be the only option directly offered tothe reader. No other political purchase point or linkage is provided, and the possibility thatstructural or personal change in the West may be necessary to ftindamentally alleviate some of theproblems viewed is itself largely precluded by the isolationist framing of the discourse, thedistancing and disguising rhetoric of objectivity used, and the essentialised and naturalisedportrayal of ‘AIDS in Africa’ offered. Beyond this specific issue-related impact, the mediadiscourse is also perhaps likely to reinforce insidiously racist notions of, and attitudes to, Africaand Africans in general, of ‘Africa’ as a space of degenerate uniqueness. As a result, even ifbenefits arise from the discourse for the subjects of it, they could be much more sensitivelyprovided. Determining and then tracking these possible attitudinal changes through to concreteactions - for example, the introduction of stiffer immigration policies or simply the personaltreatmentofparticularindividuals- is an impossible task, but this does not mean that determininglinkages are not present.178Similarly, further tracing the impact of the ‘AIDS in Africa’ media discourse through to Africaitself is an even harder task, but, again, though hard to identify, determining and causal linkagesoperate. It has already been demonstrated that the represented can themselves be deeply andshockingly affectedby the construction of the representations - witness Florence for example - andby their impactwhen circulatedtoo - Nancy and Susan would testify to this. More generally, thenature of the discourse is likely to shape and influence the broader climate of global public andgovernmental opinion, which, in turn, will determine financial and policy responses to the AIDSsituation in Africa and to the continent in general. The representations will, undoubtedly, havedrawn attention and funds to the problem, but, as discussed above, their nature, and specificallytheir tone of weary hopelessness and inevitability may perhaps have unduly limited such aresponse - ‘after all, why bother?’ - as well as precluding more fundamental changes. And, asPatton suggests, this particular framing, of helplessness and hopelessness may also enable andunderpin other, more sinister responses; for example, the operation of ethically unsound vaccinetrials.56 Much more work is needed to map out this terrain and confirm or deny thesespeculations. The Western ‘AIDS in Africa’ media discourse has also triggered something of acounter-representational offensive, from African governments and news publications.57 Thesecounter representations take issue with the strident sourcing of AIDS in Africa and attempt, in turn,to suggest that AIDS spread to Africa from the West via potential mechanisms such as germwarfare, tourism or U.S. military personnel. looper believes he himself was expelled fromUganda as part of this attempted counter.58 However, the Western media possess the power toshout the loudest. Where these counter-representationsare mentioned at all, they are dealt with as‘propaganda’, and, ironically, seen as an indication of the overtly politicised and biased nature ofthe ‘African’, in contrast to the supposedly apolitical, rational and considered representations of theWestern media which triggered the flurry in the first place - further evidence of the unequally56 Patton, C. 1990: Inventing AIDS (New York: Routledge), p.67.57 For a tracing of the ebb and flow of representation and counter-representationbetween ‘First’ and ‘Third World’,Farmer, P. 1992: AIDS andAccusation: Haiti and the Geography of Blame (Berkeley: University of CaliforniaPress).58 Interview with Ed Hooper, 16/2/94.179distributed ability of individuals to abstract themselves in public and subsequently access the publicsphere.To turn to the power and implicationsthat flow from these representations is necessarily to step onto the treacherous terrain of functional argument, but geographical knowledge has always been andwill always be implicated in relations of power and caught within a wider social context. The‘AIDS in Africa’ media discourse contains significant coterminous tendencies acting to inflect thenarrative from an explicitlypolitical treatment and distance the reader from the full actuality of thesituation, but this inflection, and distanciation is itself intrinsically political, laden with all-too-realimplications. The discourse also contains a considerable amount of highly offensive racist andsexist imagery. The crushing weight of these ‘AIDS in Africa’ representations will impactresoundingly upon people’s lives, and to take issue with their nature here, though a start, is notenough.180Postscript181Postscript“Imagine yourself now in the center ofAIDS space blowing a big soap bubble around Cleveland.Perhaps the HIV spreads in this way, slowly capturing the counties in AIDS space until the multiplebubbles reach those on the periphery and the infection is everywhere”Gould, P. 1993: The Slow Plague, p.67.“It is good to know that this epidemic which was going to wipe out Africa is just a big bubble ofsoap”Philippe Krynen, “French Charity Worker”, quoted in The Sunday Times, “African Aids plague ‘amyth”, 3 October1993, pp.10-li.On the 21St of March, 1993, the ‘AIDS in Africa’ Western media discourse fractured. From themid-1980s until that date, most ‘quality’ newspapers in Britain and the U.S. had run a steadystream of stereotypical ‘AIDS in Africa’ stories, specials and photography features, followingdirectly in the pattern of the articles examined in the previous chapter. On one level, this discoursewas riven with ambivalence, contradiction and tension, but it was nevertheless monolithic in toneand angle, with consensus on the ‘fact’ that Africa was suffering a extreme ‘plague-like’ epidemicof AIDS. This apparent extreme level of suffering deemed ‘AIDS in Africa’ newsworthy, and itwas reported in a highly distinct, but offensive manner in nearly all the ‘quality’ newspapers.Firstly, as a lesson to the West that AIDS could and would spread heterosexually if precautionswere not taken, although, as has been seen, it is debatable as to the extent to which this lesson hithome given the form within it was couched. And secondly, repetitively and derogatorily framed,understood and explainedwithin the realm of a mythic and stereotypical ‘Africa’.This monolith was shattered by a story run in the well-respected London Sunday Times entitled,“Epidemic ofAIDS in Africa ‘a tragic myth.” 1 The story was filed by Neville Hodgkinson, thenewspaper’s Science Correspondent, and it represented the first shot in the newspaper’s1 The Sunday Times, 21 March 1993, p.2.182‘campaign’ to question the fundamental premise that, until then, had bound media coverage of‘AIDS in Africa’ together: that AIDS was rife on that continent. This Sunday Times ‘campaign’ isstill running, and has actually broadened to call into question further foundational premises of theAIDS discourse, with shocking, but predictable results. I focus here on the articles in the‘campaign’ dealing specifically with ‘AIDS in Africa’. Other publications have tended to hold tothe traditional’AIDS in Africa’ line and angle during this ‘campaign’, and some have been drawninto vitriolic debate with the Sunday Times. I close with a brief chronology, description andanalysis of this frightening and complex debate. It both merits discussion in its own right andallows me to draw together many of the themes and issues explored in the previous chapters, notleast the intrinsically political nature of representations of AIDS and the responsibilities of thosewith the abilityto construct such powerful and potentiallydeadly images.The first Sunday Times article was fairly tentative in tone compared with some of their laterrepresentations. Nevertheless, it declared, “Africa is not in the grip of an Aids epidemic, and falseassertions that the continent is being devastated by HIV are leading to a tragic diversion ofresources from genuine medical needs, according to a growing body of expert opinion.” Thisassertion introduces a number of themes played out throughout the campaign. Denying theexistence of an AIDS epidemic in Africa will have drastic and obvious implications if theirassertion turns out to be false, both in the West, where people are now given no reason to eitheralter their behaviour or act to alleviate the ‘African’ situation, and therefore in Africa itself, wherepeople could die if a real epidemic is treated as myth in the West. The Sunday Times neveraddresses the politicaland potentiallydeadly implications of their words. Instead, they attempt toground their ‘campaign’ in altruism - the articles are, supposedly, run for the public good, andspecifically ‘African good’ since the myth of AIDS is causing a “tragic diversion” from genuinemedical needs. The newspaper also exhibits a distinct lack of reflexivity throughout this‘campaign’, neglecting to mention that they themselves were one of the voices making thesesupposedly “false assertions that the continent is being devastated by HIV” only months before. Inmaking their ‘new’ assertions, the Sunday Times then hides behind the ubiquitous newspaper“expert”. Presumably these “experts” are altogether different in calibre and authority to the ones183used earlier in the discourse to testify to the ‘AIDS apocalypse’ striking Africa! The Sunday Timesconducts much of their narrative through ventriloquy. This allows them to evade responsibility fortheir utterances, and maintaina stance of pseudo-objectivity, based purely on the authority radiatedby such titles and dependent on the disguising of the fact that they select and construct their articlesfrom these disparate sources, actively choosing to give voice to some individuals and not others.The identity of the “growing body of expert opinion” gradually reveals itself in the course of the‘campaign’, and they are a motley bunch indeed.The Sunday Times goes on, “The challenge. . . will outrage much Western medical opinion,which points to ‘heterosexual Aids’ in Africa as a warning of what could happen elsewhere.”Thus, their new angle on the situation is believed to undermine the first lesson to be drawn from‘AIDS in Africa’ and install, in its place, a different lesson, to be emphasised in much greater detailin following articles: that the Western mainstream heterosexual population are unlikely toexperience an AIDS epidemic. Only one member of the “growing body of expert opinion” showshimself here to back up this angle on ‘AIDS in Africa’ and his credentials go unexplored: “DrHarvey Bialy, a leading American scientist with long experience of Africa . . . says there is‘absolutely no believable, persuasive evidence that Africa is in the midst of a new epidemic ofinfectious immuno-deficiency”, although no believable, persuasive evidence is provided to showthat Africa is not in the midst of a new epidemic either. But, the Sunday Times does posit twopossible reasons for the existence of the ‘African AIDS myth.’ Firstly, “that HIV testing isfrequently misleading in Africa. The tests react to antibodies to malaria as well as HIV producingup to 80-90% false positives.” And secondly, that these inaccurate African test results are thenfurther combined with haphazardly estimated infection rates and inflated for political reasons,stating that, “because international funds are available for Aids and HIV work, politicians andhealth workers have an incentive to classify people as Aids sufferers.”This reasoning introduces a further series of ironies which also sound throughout the ‘campaign’.The first is that in pointing to the inaccuracy of HIV testing in Africa, the conservative SundayTimes echoes much earlier comments voiced by radical critics of Western science’s dominant role184in framing ‘AIDS in Africa.’, including Patton and the Chirimuutas.2 While science and the mediainitiallypresented ‘AIDS in Africa’ as apocalyptic, Patton suggested that this was an exaggerationfor exactly the same reasons cited by the Sunday Times. This ‘campaign’ therefore sees thepolitical field surrounding ‘AIDS in Africa’ warp and distort in an extraordinary and complexmanner. For example, on 14th November, 1993, the Sunday Times published several letters fromirate politicians and AIDS organisations arguing that AIDS in Africa is not myth, but they alsopublished one from Wilmette Brown on behalf of the “International Black Women for Wages forHousework” who stated, “Investment in the myth of Aids in Africa enables disinvestment inovercoming genuinely epidemicdiseases of poverty. . . As a black women’s group, we considerthe Sunday Times articles on the myth of Aids in Africa a public service.”3 The second irony inthis new discourse is that in the above statements there are the first hints of the newspaper pointingthe finger of blame at those supposedly responsible for the generationof the ‘AIDS in Africa’ myth- African politicians who apparently inflate figures to attract aid money, and health workers whohave a similar incentiveto attractfunds to their project! This represents another distinct flip in the‘AIDS in Africa’ discourse. African governments are still portrayed as deviously and greedilypoliticisingthe situation, only this time they are believed to be inflating figures to attract aid, ratherthan disguising high levels of AIDS incidenceto protect tourist revenue and their own self-image.And, to cap it all, the final irony in this first article in the Sunday Times ‘AIDS in Africa’ series isthat the story runs with a large photograph of two young children, captioned, “Aids victims inZambia.” However, in contrast to all the other newspaper images discussed earlier, these“victims” are instead depicted in the picture of health, smiling and eating. The photograph,connotativelyanchored by its caption, powerfully evidence’s ‘AIDS in Africa’ as myth; after all, ifits “victims” actually look like this, there can surely be no plague.2 Patton, C. 1990: Inventing AIDS (New York: Routledge). Chirimuuta, R. and Chirimuuta, R. 1989: AIDS,Africa and Racism (London: Free Association Books).The Sunday Times, 14 November 1993, p.12.185All the same themes and ironies repeat in the second Sunday Times article on the ‘AIDS in Africa’myth, which ran five months after the first, on the 29th August 1993. The story was again writtenby Neville Hodgkinson, but this time his copy was filed from Nairobi. It therefore includessupposed first-hand evidence of the ‘AIDS in Africa’ myth, and is considerably more assertive intone. The newspaper ran the story as its page one headline under the ludicrous banner title “Babiesgive lie to AfricanAids”, and then continued the story inside the paper under the similar, “Babieswho survive cast doubt on HIV claims.”4 Not only does this framing conjure up some ridiculousimages in one’s mind, it is an explicitlyemotive angle on the issue, emphasised still further by thecontinued distinctive use of photography. As in all the ‘AIDS in Africa’ articles, newsphotographs perform a highly persuasive, rhetorical function. In this case, a group of smilingbabies is captioned, “Smiles that confound the experts of doom . . . happy and healthy ‘Aidsbabies’ at Nyumbani hospice in Nairobi.” The story and accompanying photographs frame theissue in an emotively confrontational way: “happy babies” versus “experts of doom”, with theformer apparently battling against the condemnation of the latter, and the latter perhaps almostdisappointed that toddler deaths are not ensuing! Again, the story represents a startling flip in the‘AIDS in Africa’ media discourse. Earlier, images of children, including Florence’s son,Ssengabi, and stories of orphans, were used to persuade the reader of the dreadful Truth of thesituation in Africa. Now, similarly emotive images of children are intended to directly counter thisTruth. The discourse is site of a semiotic and rhetorical battle.The article itself is based on the testimony of just one man, a priest who runs a Kenyan hospice.“Father Angelo d’Agostino is puzzled. He sits at the heart of Africa’s allegedAids epidemicwith ahospital full of HIV-positive childrenwho, health experts say, are condemned to die. Except thatthey are very much alive. . . in common with growing numbers of scientists and doctors aroundthe world, d’Agostino is beginning to question whether HIV is really the killer it has been madeout to be. He, like them, suspects that many ‘Aids’ cases are really old diseases given a newname.” Again, the Sunday Times pits “health experts” against a “growing numbers of scientists‘ The Sunday Times, 29 September 1993, pp.1, 6.186and doctors” and attempts, simply by mentioning these titles, to convince the reader of the weightof what they themselves say. It is as if they are merely and objectively reflecting a debate in thewider world to the reader. But newspapers do not reflect, they construct, and in this case censorand select who is reported and how. And by hiding the debate - if one exists - behind “experts”and “scientists”, they distance the reader still further from the issue, which is presented asoccurring in a Kafkaesque isolated and official intellectualrealm, far above readers’ heads. Thereader can only watch passively as the debate is reported, await its “expert” resolution, and is givenno political purchase point or means of gaining entry to an issue which affects them directly andmay lead to life or death for many.In this second article, the Sunday Times posits exactly the same reasons for the supposed existenceof the ‘AIDS in Africa’ myth - inaccurateand inflationarytesting for HIV in Africa, combined withfurther hints that health organisations and African governments are keen to see high figures forfinancial and political reasons. For example, they state,”Encouragedby WHO-funded units andnumerous non-governmental organisations involved in the fight against Aids in Africa, doctors arereporting growing numbers of Aids cases. But researchers have not established the extent towhich these are genuinely the result of a new virus, as opposed to a consequence of anintensification in long-established threats to health” [my italics]. And add, “a recent crisisannouncement on Aids by the [Kenya’s] health minister is seen within the international aidcommunity as an attempt to win back donor sympathy and funds, according to the journal AfricaConfidential”The articlethen concludes with the self-righteous and extraordinarily unreflexive statement, “If theHIV theory of Aids turns out to be flawed, scientists may prove to have done Africans, more thanany other people, a huge injustice.” The Sunday Times is attempting a rhetorical manoeuvre thatgrounds its ‘campaign’ in altruism once again, and reinforces a conception of newspapers ingeneral, and it in particular, as defenders of the public good - in this case, protecting Africans fromscientists! They neglectto mention that if “the HIV theory of Aids turns out to be flawed”, they,along with many other newspapers, will also have done Africans “a huge injustice.” But the issue187is not quite this simple. The Sunday Times presents the situation as an either/or choice. Either‘AIDS in Africa’ is apocalyptic or it is non-existent myth - a gross oversimplification and areflection of newspapers’ tendencies to sensationalise and search for confrontational extremes inthe quest for a powerful and strong commodity/story. In many respects, therefore, the SundayTimes ais involved in a backlash - partly against themselves and the earlier frantic and unrealisticpositionings of ‘AIDS in Africa’ as, for example, apocalypse! AIDS within a population is, asPeter Gould recognises, a slowly-developing condition, not a lightning-strike, but the formerpositioning, though more ‘realistic’, does not contain the necessary urgency to make ‘good’ news.As a result, this drama and urgency was added by the media via their frantic framing of the story.Perhaps, just perhaps, ‘AIDS in Africa’ is neither a ‘plague’ that will wipe out the continent as theearliermedia discourse suggested. This overblown positioning, as has been shown, was one thatowed much to myth itself. Nor, perhaps, at the other extreme, is ‘AIDS in Africa’ a completefiction. Both extreme positionings carry dangerous life or death implications. It seems to be themedia under investigationwho are, above all, doing Africa”a huge injustice.”After the publication of this second article, other newspapers entered the debate. On the 9thJanuary 1994, The Independent on Sunday published a direct counter to the above story. It waswritten by Steve Connor, their Science Correspondent, and titled “Paper accused of Aids‘distortion.” It continued, “A doctor [d’Agostino, the priest in the above story] who was quotedextensively by the Sunday Times to support its view that the Aids epidemic in Africa is a myth hasdenounced the newspaper for ‘gross distortions’ and misrepresentation. . . in a strongly wordedstatementto the Independent on Sunday, he condemned the Sunday Times and reaffirmed his viewthat HIV causes Aids and that there is a serious epidemic in Africa. . . He accused Mr Hodgkinsonof having a “hidden agenda that became evident only at the time of publication”. . . He said he senta fax to the Sunday Times to correct the errors in Mr Hodgkinson’s article soon after it appeared,but receivedno acknowledgementand no correctionwas published.”The Independenton Sunday, 9 January 1994, p.4.188In the meantime, however, the Sunday Times ran another massive spread, representing, to date,their most assertive revised statement on ‘AIDS in Africa.’ The story appeared in the 3rd ofOctober 1993 edition of the newspaper, and was, once again, filed by Neville Hodgkinson, thistime from Dar es Salaam, and carried as their front-page lead under the headline “African Aidsplague ‘a myth.” 6 By this stage in their campaign, however, placing ‘myth’ within quotationmarks seemed a ridiculous gesture, since the Sunday Times was quite clearly the motivating forcebehind this disturbing new angle on the ‘AIDS in Africa’ issue. In fact, the newspaper emergedfrom behind the words of others inside the paper, where the bulk of the story continued in a doublepage spread under the inch high heading, “THE PLAGUE THATNEVERWAS.”7As with the other articles in the series, the evidence for this strenuous assertion is extraordinarilylimited. The whole story is constructed solely around the personal testimony of two French charityworkers, Philippe and Evelyne Krynen, “trained nurses” who “head the largest Aids organisationfor children in Tanzania” and have been working in the country since 1989. This “Aidsorganisation” goes unnamed. According to the Sunday Times, when the Krynens first arrived inTanzaniathey prepared a report on the AIDS situation there, which “presented a dramatic picture:children alone in empty houses emptied of adults, or abandoned into the care of grandparents; afootball team destroyed by the disease.” The Krynens state that this report then became part of theinitial ‘AIDS in Africa’ myth, and was cited on television, in the press and by “Aidsorganisations.” No citations are given. The Sunday Times then states, “Four years later thecouple recognise their understanding of the situationwas utterlywrong. . . Philippe now declares:‘There is no Aids. It is something that has been invented. There are no epidemiologicaigroundsfor it. . . Whenever I have been able to follow people reported to have Aids for any length of time,I have seen them cured. When you look into it, they are not reallyAids cases. So where are thesecases? Always in the hands of other people - hospitals, reporters, photographers. . . The worldhas been brainwashed about Aids. It has become a disease in itself, without the necessity ofhaving sick people any more.” But while quoting and then appearing to side with Philippe Krynen6 The Sunday Times, 3 October1993, p.!.The Sunday Times, 3 October1993, pp.10-il.189in his claim that AIDS is a complete myth, the article must still confront apparent evidence ofAIDS-relatedillness and death in Africa. This is put down to the psychological effects of the myth:“Studies elsewhere in Africa have shown a close correlation between HIV-positivity and risk ofillness, but the Krynens think this may be a consequence of health workers - and patients - givingup hope in the face of an HIV ‘death sentence.” This is a remarkablyunreflexivepieceof writing.The “HIV death sentence” is one that has itself been partially written by the Western media andunderpinned by the extensive use of ‘victim’ iconography. It may well have a detrimentalpsychological effect upon those so diagnosed and upon the treatment they receive from others, butthis media implication goes unexplored. Similarly, the ‘reality’ that the Sunday Times opposesagainst this ‘myth’ is capable of killing too, but the paper does not seem aware of the potentialweight or consequences of its words. There is also contradiction between Krynen’s claim thatthere are no sick people and the apparent fact that an “HIV death sentence” is in operation. Thearticle is a flawed and illogicalmuddle.In order to illustrate the revised understanding - that AIDS is myth - the paper then prints aphotograph of the Krynens surrounded by their apparently healthy, happy and smiling charges,and, once again, news photographs play a vital rhetorical role in the ‘AIDS in Africa’ discourse.The Sunday Times then goes on, “Dramatic testimony by two medically trained charity workersbased at the “epicentre” of Aids in Africa has provided devastating new evidence against the viewthat the continentis engulfed by an epidemicof the disease. After five years in charge of 230 staffhelping ‘Aids orphans’ in the Kagera province of northwestern Tanzania, Philippe and EvelyneKrynen have concluded that stories of Africa being in the grip of a new sexually transmitteddisease are a lie. These latest reports underpin growing evidence casting doubt on the scale ofAfrica’s Aids problem. Health workers and government officials, including Zimbabwe’s healthminister, increasingly see the scare tactics of the Aids lobby as diverting attention from morefundamental problems.”Here the Sunday Times again set up the ‘AIDS in Africa’ situation in dichotomised andconfrontational terms. They are prepared to rely upon the testimony of two individuals based in190one province of Tanzaniawho argue that ‘AIDS in Africa’ is a myth in order to question “the viewthat the continent is engulfed by an epidemic” ofAIDS. The actualityof the situation is unlikely tobe represented by either of these media extremes. And, in addition, not only is the extrapolation ofthe Krynens’ evidence across the whole of Africa ridiculous in the extreme, it is one the paper isonly able to sustain through the boosting and sensationalising of this tenuous testimony byemotively labelling it “dramatic” and “devastating”. Similarly, this single testimony of twoindividuals is given spurious weight when it becomes mysteriously pluralised as “these latestreports” in the articleitself, and then used to supposedly “underpin growing evidence casting doubton the scale ofAfrica’s Aids problem.” Little evidence, apart from the thin personal testimony ofDoctor Bialy, Father d’Agostino [subsequently withdrawn] and now the Krynens, has actuallybeen shown to the reader in the course of the whole ‘campaign’, although they are constantlyreminded of its apparently snowballing background presence. If it is indeed “growing”, it is onlybecause it is being rhetorically inflated to the maximum by the Sunday Times. This is hardlyobjective, detachedjournalism, but then, at this stage in the media discourse, that should come asno surprise. And, though representing such a distinct departure from the previous media discourseon ‘AIDS in Africa’ and the line still taken by other newspapers, the Sunday Times exhibit thesame derogatory tendency to conflate the diverse geographies and cultures of Africa and deal withthe continent as single homogeneous unit.In explaining the existence and persistence of this ‘myth’, the Sunday Times at least resorts to anexplicit political treatment, even if it then ignores the role of media itself in shaping the ‘AIDS inAfrica’ discourse. In a sense, this explicit political treatment represents an advance over theprevious media articles which attempt to explain the actuality of the ‘AIDS in Africa’ situationsolely within the aestheticised, naturalised and essentialised realm of ‘Africa’, the colonialimaginary. But this ‘political’ turn is also, unfortunately, a small mercy, still extremely limited inscope and problematic in its implications. The media are presented as relaying the ‘facts’ of thematter all along, with governments and health organisations accused here of deliberatelymisleadingthe media and the public by distorting and inflating these ‘facts’ for selfish political reasons. The191accusatory and combative tone adopted by the Sunday Times in this article represents an upshift inthe level of assertiveness with which they relate their narrative.So, for example, “stories ofAfricabeing in the grip” of AIDS are positioned as a “lie”, suggestingthat the Sunday Times sees a deliberative and manipulative agency behind the existence of themyth. Similarly, they point to the “scare tactics of the Aids lobby”, whoever they may be, andthus present this group as an undemocratic, devious and threateningblock who must be combatted,like previous ominous references to “experts of doom”. The nature of this threat is filled out asfollows: “Critics of these [World Health Organisation] estimates say they are often based on poorlyconducted surveys, which are then inflated by empire-buildingAids organisations and taken at facevalue by governments desperate for the foreign currency an Aids problem can attract.” NGO andAfrican governmental greed are, apparently, the motivational forces behind the existence of the‘AIDS in Africa’ myth! Denying an apocalyptic problem or inflating a non-existent one, Africangovernments do not win in this discourse.The Sunday Times goes on, “Across Africa, the World Health Organisation(WHO) has a networkof representatives in large, air-conditionedoffices whose work has been increasinglydominated byAids . . . the representatives often exert a lot of power, helping to channel funds from drugcompanies, donor agencies and the WHO itself, dwarfing local medical spending.” The referenceto “large, air-conditionedoffices” is not exactly a subtle use of rhetoric, and highlights where thereader’s ire is intended to be directed - toward the cool and spacious WHO. Further ‘evidence’from the Krynens describes how their power plays itself out locally: “local people working forAids agencies have become rich. They have built homes in Dar es Salaam, they have theirmotorbikes; they have benefited a lot.” And, unfortunately, though resorting largely to a dubiousbut nevertheless explicitlypoliticalexplanationand framing of the supposed ‘AIDS in Africamyth’prior to the publicationof this article, here the Sunday Times adds in an extra level of explanationthat once again portrays Africaand Africans in an offensive and stereotypical manner. They quotethe Krynens discussing the children in their care. They state, “Families just bring them asorphans, and if you ask how the parents died they will say Aids. It is fashionable nowadays to say192that because it brings money and support.” As usual in this discourse, there is no wider discussionof the economic and politicalcontext for the problems in Africa under examination. For example,why, if the above is true, do these people want money and support? This strand of the article isfurther illustratedwith a large close-up photograph of a child clad in rags, staring enigmaticallyoutat the camera. The picture is captioned, “Children in Africa are without their parents for manyreasons - claiming to be Aids orphans can get them better treatment.” This portrayal of Africanchildren as scheming and devious is particularlyoffensive and represents a dramatic reversal in the‘AIDS in Africa’ discourse since similar images of children ‘awaiting their fate’ as ‘innocentvictims’ were previously used to emotively illustrate the supposed all-consuming apocalypticnature of ‘AIDS in Africa.’ These two sets of image, though almost identical in appearance, whensemiotically and connotatively anchored and forced by different captions and context, fall atopposite ends of a rhetorical spectrum spanned by active guilt and passive innocence. The SundayTimes articles ludicrously position babies as agents who ‘give lie’ to AIDS and children as agentsgiving lies in order to successfully outwit science, medicine and the media for several years!With this upshift in assertiveness and as a result of their more explicitly political treatment of‘AIDS in Africa’, there comes an implicit change in the nature of the Sunday Times’ role in thisdiscourse: from newspaper as simple reporter of the ‘facts’ to newspaper as defending andcampaigning for the public good. In the earlier articles there were glimpses of the newspaperacting in this supposedly altruistic role, protecting ‘Africans’ from the psychological havocapparently being wreaked by the ‘AIDS in Africa’ myth. But now, in this latest article, thiscampaigning role is adopted in a more overt manner and the nature of their public constituencyundergoes an alarming switch as it becomes more clearly defined. The Sunday Times is nowseeking to protect the reader’s pocket from the grabbing hands of the faceless AIDS bureaucracy,and from greedy ‘Africans’. This combination of a now explicitly politicised narrative and theresulting shift in roles of the newspaper is strangely both simultaneously disempowering,representing, in many ways, a retrogressive discursive step, and empowering too, representing, inother ways, a positive advance in the general ‘AIDS in Africa’ discourse. A consensual ‘objectiveTruth’ - that ‘AIDS in Africa’ is of serious ‘plague-like’ proportions and to be understood within a193framing that encodes and legitimates ‘Africa’, the colonial imaginary - is shattered by this‘campaign’, all be it in a highly suspect and offensive manner. This Truth is then replaced by aseries of truths, with various sides arguing for the preeminence of their own version of theactuality.The shattering of the monolithicnature of the ‘AIDS in Africa’ discourse can be seen as particularlydisempowering, and, as such, it seems to be a frightening raising of the ‘representational’ stakessurrounding the issue. A pessimistic reading of this potentially debilitating discursive impassewould perhaps conclude that the ‘AIDS in Africa’ discourse has reached its own relativist crisis ofrepresentation: an apparently irresolvable stand-offbetween ‘AIDS in Africa’ represented by PeterGould’s “soap bubble” and the same situation as represented by Philippe Krynen’s “bubble ofsoap”! The latter “bubble of soap” is certainly no better a metaphor for the s