Witches, Westerners, and HIV

AIDS and Cultures of Blame in Africa

Alexander Rödlach



A witch's curse, an imperialist conspiracy, a racist plot―HIV/AIDS is a catastrophic health crisis with complex cultural dimensions. From small villages to the international system, explanations of where it comes from, who gets it, and who dies are tied to political agendas, religious beliefs, and the psychology of devastating grief. Frequently these explanations conflict with science and clash with prevention and treatment programs. In Witches, Westerners, and HIV Alexander Rödlach draws on a decade of research and work in Zimbabwe to compare beliefs about witchcraft and conspiracy theories surrounding HIV/AIDS in Africa.


Rodlach's understanding of the field is definitely impressive.... [He] puts forward a set of convincing arguments, weaving in the work of anthropologists as well as informants. The depth of his local knowledge is evident....the reader is left in no doubt that a western medical view of HIV/AIDS is simply inadequate. —Medical Sociology Online


Alexander Rödlach is Assistant Professor in Anthropology and Psychiatry in the Department of Sociology at Creighton University.