Yael Danovitch

Kudziletsa, Kukulupirika, Kudzipimba: Understanding the Link between Discourses on Sex and HIV transmission in Malawi

HIV/AIDS remains a significant threat to many countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In order to understand HIV transmission in this context, it is crucial to understand the practices and understandings that facilitate its spread. In Malawi, HIV is spread primarily through sex, and sex itself constitutes a deeply culturally embedded practice. With this in mind, I will be spending this summer in Malawi examining the way in which discourses on sex influence HIV/AIDS patterns. Drawing on a collection of conversational journals collected by the Malawi Diffusion and Ideational Change Project of the University of Pennsylvania, in addition to closely examining Chichewa terms and phrases, I will use language as a compass to navigate through Malawian perspectives on sex. In doing so, I am to reach an understanding of how local understandings of sex shape HIV transmission in Malawi.

Message to Sponsor

I have been intrigued by the question of HIV/AIDS for some time now, and have often theorized about its courses and implications. In spite of my interest, however, I have often found myself feeling daunted by the task of research, particularly in an international setting. SURF has empowered me to address the question of AIDS for myself instead of turning immediately to established sources for answers. This opportunity has not only provided me with invaluable support, but has reignited my intellectual drive. My previous research fears are now completely overshadowed by the excitement i feel to get started on my work!
  • Major: Development Studies
  • Mentor: Ann Swidler, Sociology