AIDS hyper-epidemics and social resilience: theorising the political

Pieter Fourie*, Maj Lis Follér

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


AIDS has been the most political pandemic in the world for 30 years, and yet political science has viewed it in a mostly descriptive, compartmentalised and theoretically neglectful way. There have been many theories of AIDS, but very little AIDS theory that is informed by politics. This deficit of theory seems to be intellectually counter-intuitive, but may be the result of an epistemic community which is often erroneously constructed as monolithic; its pursuits are deeply informed by funding priorities which favour phenomena with more tangible, short-term results; the incremental biomedical 'good practice' responses in some instances crowd out what is perceived as the luxury of deeper, systemic reflection. This article argues that a focus on socio-political resilience can be useful to galvanise political scientific theorising of AIDS. As a heuristic filter, resilience may be useful to advance social science's analytical narrative regarding the pandemic beyond the negative, to identify and capitalise on the lessons and transformational potential of AIDS and other long-wave shocks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)254-268
Number of pages15
JournalContemporary Politics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012


  • AIDS
  • political science
  • resilience
  • theory


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