Why have governments responded to the HIV/AIDS pandemic in such different ways? During the past quarter century, international agencies and donors have disseminated vast resources and a set of best practice recommendations to policymakers around the globe. Yet the governments of developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean continue to implement widely varying policies. Boundaries of Contagion is the first systematic, comparative analysis of the politics of HIV/AIDS. The book explores the political challenges of responding to a stigmatized condition, and identifies ethnic boundaries--the formal and informal institutions that divide societies--as a central influence on politics and policymaking.
Evan Lieberman examines the ways in which risk and social competition get mapped onto well-institutionalized patterns of ethnic politics. Where strong ethnic boundaries fragment societies into groups, the politics of AIDS are more likely to involve blame and shame-avoidance tactics against segments of the population. In turn, government leaders of such countries respond far less aggressively to the epidemic. Lieberman's case studies of Brazil, South Africa, and India--three developing countries that face significant AIDS epidemics--are complemented by statistical analyses of the policy responses of Indian states and over seventy developing countries. The studies conclude that varied patterns of ethnic competition shape how governments respond to this devastating problem. The author considers the implications for governments and donors, and the increasing tendency to identify social problems in ethnic terms.
"Lieberman's methodologically eclectic study constitutes the most thorough cross-national examination of the politics of AIDS to date. It should be essential reading for people interested in the politics of AIDS, public health, and public policy making more generally."--Choice
"Lieberman's book has the great merit of casting peremptory conclusions about HIV/AIDS implementation in national contexts, and, as such, it constitutes a landmark in the political analysis of epidemic response. Though being a scholarly book, it appeals to wider audience interested in major international social and development policy . . . since it proposes thoroughly argued explanations for specific policy behaviors."--Ricardo Pereira, CEU Political Science Journal
"In this stunning work, Lieberman traces the divergent responses of governments to the varying salience of ethnic boundaries across polities. Where ethnic boundary institutions are strong, he shows that political leaders are reluctant to address HIV, whether or not their own ethnic community runs a relatively higher risk than other groups. This book should be read and taught by scholars of comparative politics and public health specialists for its substantive argument and multilevel, multimethod research design."--Elisabeth Jean Wood, Yale University
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