The Life and Death of a Street Boy in East Africa: Everyday Violence in the Time of AIDS


This article focuses on the life history of a single street boy in northwestern Tanzania, whom I name Juma. I suggest that Juma’s experiences and the life trajectory of himself and of significant individuals around him (particularly his mother) were structured by everyday violence. I describe everyday violence in terms of a conjuncture between macrostructural forces in East Africa (including a history of failed development schemes and the contemporary political economy of neoliberalism) and the lived experience of individuals as they negotiate local, contextual factors (including land-tenure practices, the power dynamics between immediate and extended kin, life on the streets, and constructions of gender and sexuality). I suggest that AIDS and its many impacts on Juma’s life course can only be understood in a broader context of everyday violence. From this basis, I draw several general conclusions regarding AIDS prevention and intervention strategies.

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