Barbara Browning follows the trail of "infectious rhythm" from the ecstatic percussion of a Brazilian carnival group to the eerily silent video image of the LAPD beating a man like a drum. Throughout, she identifies the metaphoric strain of contagion which both celebrates the diasporic spread of African culture, and serves as the justification for its brutal repression.

The essays in this book examine both the vital and violent ways in which recent associations have been made between the AIDS pandemic and African diasporic cultural practices, including religious worship, music, dance, sculpture, painting, orature, literature and film. While pointing to the lengthy and complex history of the metaphor of African contagion, Browning argues that in its politicized, life-affirming embodiment, the figure might actually teach us to respond to epidemia humanely.

chapter |16 pages


“Haiti Is Here/Haiti Is Not Here”

chapter |15 pages

One Babaluaiyé

Diaspora As Pandemic

chapter |17 pages

Two Compact World

chapter |20 pages

Three Lutte contre les moustiques

The Question of Irony

chapter |15 pages

FOUR African Medicine Men

chapter |17 pages

Five Voodoo Economics

chapter |15 pages

Six Mixing Bloods

The L.A. Riots 1

chapter |18 pages

Eight Benetton

Blood Is Big Business

chapter |20 pages

Ten The Closed Body